Paris striker Salah Abdeslam found guilty of murder and jailed for life | Paris attacks
Salah Abdeslam, the sole survivor of the 10-man unit that hit Paris in coordinated terror attacks in 2015, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison, the most severe life sentence under the law. French law.
Abdeslam, 32, a French citizen of Brussels origin, was convicted of participating in the series of bombings and shootings across the French capital that killed 130 people and injured more than 490.
The attacks claimed by Islamic State began when suicide bombers struck outside the National Sports Stadium on the night of Friday, November 13, 2015, followed by drive-by shootings and suicide bombings targeting cafes and restaurants. Finally, a gun attack at the Bataclan theater during a rock concert by the Eagles of Death Metal killed 90 people.
After the biggest criminal trial ever held in France, a panel of judges declared Abdeslam guilty of terrorism.
Abdeslam was sentenced to life, the most severe sentence that can be handed down under French law. It offers only a slim chance of parole after 30 years.
For 10 months in a purpose-built and heavily guarded courthouse, hundreds of people who survived the deadliest peacetime attack on French soil gave shocking details of their ordeal – whether crawling past corpses at the Bataclan, being taken hostage by armed men or dodging Kalashnikov fire at sidewalk restaurant tables.
Nine of the 10 men who hit the city died that night, either committing suicide or being shot by police – including Abdeslam’s older brother Brahim, who detonated an explosive vest in a Paris bar.
Abdeslam was the only survivor. He went to a bar in northern Paris but then threw his explosive vest in a bin and then called friends to pick him up and bring him back to Brussels.
For months he hid in Brussels – where he grew up – to escape one of Europe’s biggest manhunts.
He was arrested in March 2016 after a shootout with Belgian police in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. A few days after his arrest, suicide bombers suspected of being part of the same terrorist unit struck at Brussels airport and on the city’s metro, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds.
Paris investigators have argued that Abdeslam intended to blow himself up in a Paris bar the night of the November 13, 2015 attacks, but that his explosive vest was faulty. He argued that he backed out at the last minute.
He was accused of providing crucial planning and logistical support, as well as dropping off suicide bombers at the Stade de France early in the night.
Abdeslam remained silent for years after his arrest in 2016.
Prosecutors pointed to contradictions in Abdeslam’s testimony before the special court in Paris. At the start of the trial, he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and regretted that the explosives attached to his body had not detonated.
He later said he had a change of heart when he arrived at the Paris bar and deliberately disabled his waistcoat because he didn’t want to kill people “singing and dancing” at a party.
He said his older brother, whom he had always sought to emulate and impress, asked him in the summer of 2015 to pick up Islamic State fighters returning from Syria in Europe and bring them to Brussels. Prosecutors dismissed as false his account that he had only been convinced to join the unit two days before the attacks.
Abdeslam’s behavior changed during the 10-month trial. In April, he apologized to the victims in court and asked them to “hate me in moderation”. In his final words in court on Monday, he said he had “evolved”.
He spoke of his conditions of being held in solitary confinement, saying it had been a “shock” at first to be confronted with so many people in court. But he now feels “appeased” because he has managed to regain a “semblance” of “social life” by being brought from his cell to court.
“I’ve made mistakes, but I’m not an assassin. I am not a killer. If you convict me of murder, you are doing an injustice,” Abdeslam told the court this week.
“My first words are for the victims. I already said sorry. Some will say that my apologies are not sincere, that it is a strategy… more than 130 dead, more than 400 victims, who can apologize for so little sincerity for so much suffering?
During closing arguments on Monday, Abdelslam’s attorney, Olivia Ronen, told judges her client was the only one in the group who did not set off explosives to kill others that night. He cannot be convicted of murder, she argued. Abdeslam had told the court that he was “not a danger to society”.
Prosecutors had argued that a life sentence was warranted, saying Abdeslam’s reintegration into society seemed impossible because of his “murderous ideology”.
During the trial, a lawyer asked Abdeslam how he would like to be remembered. “I don’t want to be remembered,” he said. “I want to be forgotten forever. I didn’t choose to be the person I am today.