Salah Abdeslam, the main accused in the jihadist attacks of November 13, 2015 in France, was sentenced tonight to unchanged life imprisonment by the Special Court of Appeal of Paris.
The five judges accepted the proposal of the anti-terrorism prosecutor, who had requested the imposition of this rare sentence, on the basis of which it becomes unlikely that Abdeslam will be released after serving part of his sentence. Only four times in the past has such a sentence been imposed by French courts.
Abdeslam was the only surviving member of the jihadist group that carried out the deadly attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, killing 130 people. He was found guilty by a court of terrorism and homicide.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks. The focus was on the Bataclan concert hall, six bars and restaurants, and the area around the Stade de France.
The trial, which took place in a specially designed room of the historic Paris Courthouse, lasted nine months.
The court found the 20 defendants guilty on all charges (except one who was acquitted of the terrorism charge) and sentenced them to 2 years to life in prison. Mohamed Abrini, the “man in the hat” who was also charged with the suicide attacks in Brussels in March next year, was sentenced to life in prison with a suspension of 22 years. Six of the accused were tried in absentia.
Abdeslam claimed in the trial that he decided at the last minute not to detonate the explosives with which he was wearing. However, based on the investigation and the testimonies, the court ruled that in fact the belt did not explode due to a malfunction.
At the beginning of the trial, the 32-year-old French-born Frenchman had proudly stated that he was a “soldier” of the Islamic State.