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Life sentence for the main defendant in Paris terror trial

The accused in Paris on a sketch by the court artist. Front right Salah Abdeslam

Salah Abdeslam is the sole survivor of the terrorist squads responsible for the deaths of 130 people. With the judgments, one of the most spectacular proceedings in French legal history comes to an end.

In the trial of the 2015 Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, the main defendant, Salah Abdeslam, was sentenced to life imprisonment. This was announced by the competent jury in the Paris Palace of Justice. Abdeslam – probably the only surviving assassin – faces life imprisonment without parole for murder and terrorism, Judge Jean-Louis Peries said.

In addition, 19 helpers were accused of preparing the attacks with weapons and bombs.

On November 13, 2015, the jihadist attackers killed a total of 130 people in the attacks in the Bataclan concert hall, on the Stade de France, and in Parisian street cafes. Two severely traumatized victims later took their own lives. About 350 people were injured. A total of three terrorist squads had partly detonated explosive belts and partly fired indiscriminately at people in the concert hall and in front of the cafés. The terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Hours before the verdict was announced, visitors were already waiting to be admitted to the courtroom
Hours before the verdict was announced, visitors were already waiting to be admitted to the courtroom

The trial had rolled out the series of attacks of November 13, 2015, since the fall. It was a procedure of superlatives with almost 150 days of negotiations and more than 2500 civil parties. An audience hall with more than 500 seats was specially built. The 32-year-old Franco-Moroccan Abdeslam introduced himself at the beginning of the trial as a jihadist fighter. Later, in tears, he begged his family for forgiveness. He did not detonate his explosive belt “out of humanity,” he explained. In his last statement in court on Monday, he appealed to the judges: “It’s true that I made mistakes, but I’m not a murderer, someone who kills,” he said.

The trial of the 2015 terrorist attacks took place at the Palais de Justice in Paris
The trial of the 2015 terrorist attacks took place at the Palais de Justice in Paris

Prosecutors accused him of downplaying his involvement in the attacks. “Salah Abdeslam remained true to his ideology to the end and is incapable of showing even the slightest pang of conscience,” said prosecutor Camille Hennetier. Abdeslam has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Belgium for shooting police.

Six of the other 19 accused were tried in absentia. One suspect is in custody in Turkey, five are said to have died in Syria. Among other things, the accused are said to have obtained papers, driven Abdeslam out of the country or acted as failed assassins. Some are also accused of only playing a minor role and doing occasional assignments. In addition to the prison sentences, the public prosecutor’s office demanded at least a temporary ban on residence in France for many of them.

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