Paris Attacker Abdeslam Jailed For Life
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
PARIS (Worthy News) – Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the 10-man unit that struck Paris in 2015 with terror that killed 130 people, has been jailed for life.
A life sentence is the harshest punishment available under French law.
The 32-year-old Abdeslam, a Brussels-born French citizen, was found guilty of participating in Islamic bombings and shootings across the French capital, which also injured more than 490 people.
The attacks claimed by the Islamic State terror group began when suicide bombers struck outside the national sports stadium on the night of Friday, 13 November 2015.
Soon after, drive-by shootings and suicide bombings targeting cafés and restaurants shook Paris. Finally, a gun attack at the Bataclan theatre during a rock concert by Eagles of Death Metal killed 90 people.
After the most extensive criminal trial ever held in France, lasting nine months, a panel of judges found Abdeslam guilty of terrorism.
The 19 other defendants on trial in the Paris case were mainly accused of helping with logistics or transport. Six of them were tried in absentia — one has been jailed on terror charges in Turkey, while the rest are believed to have died in Syria or Iraq.
The trial, held in a specially designed courtroom in Paris’s historic Palais de Justice, lasted nine months, with over 2,000 plaintiffs and more than 300 lawyers involved.
The 2015 violence in Paris sent shockwaves across France and the rest of Europe.
At the start of the trial in September last year, presiding judge Jean-Louis Peries said the attack belongs to “international and national events of this century.”
Islamic State had urged followers to hit France over its involvement in the fight against the militant group in Iraq and Syria.
During the lengthy court case, survivors and relatives of the victims delivered emotional testimony, along with Abdeslam.
In his final appearance on Monday, Abdeslam apologized to the victims and said his remorse was sincere. “I have made mistakes, it’s true, but I am not a murderer, I am not a killer,” he said.
Prosecutors called his emotional pleas for clemency a cynical ploy to avoid a full-life term.
In closing arguments, they stressed that all 20 defendants are members of the Islamic State extremist group that staged the massacres.
“Not everyone is a jihadi, but all of those you are judging accepted to take part in a terrorist group, either by conviction, cowardliness or greed,” prosecutor Nicolas Braconnay told the court this month.
Abdeslam’s lawyer Olivia Ronen stressed that she is “not providing legitimacy to the attacks” by defending her client in court.
Yet, she argued that her client could not be convicted for murder as he was the only one in the group of attackers who didn’t set off his explosives that night. “If a life sentence without hope for ever experiencing freedom again is pronounced, I fear we have lost a sense of proportion,” Ronan said.
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