Salah Abdeslam during the reading of the verdict in a courtroom in Paris
More than six years after the jihadist attacks of November 13, 2015, the worst ever committed in France, the Assize Court Paris special sentenced Salah Abdeslam, the only member still alive of the commandos who killed 130 people, to life imprisonment on Wednesday evening, the heaviest sentence in the Penal Code.
Islamist commandos opened fire on cafe and restaurant terraces, attacked the Bataclan performance hall during a concert, and three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the Stade de France during a soccer match between the France and Germany.
The Islamic State (IS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
On Wednesday, the five professional magistrates followed the requisitions of the public prosecutor, who had requested this extremely rare sanction against the only defendant in the box tried as a co-author of the attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, near the capital, which terrified and flabbergasted France.
Incompressible life imprisonment, also called real life imprisonment, makes it very unlikely that anyone sentenced to it will obtain a release. It had so far only been pronounced four times.
The lawyers of Salah Abdeslam, who claimed several times during the proceedings to have given up triggering his explosive belt on the evening of November 13, 2015, out of humanity, had pleaded against this slow death sentence.
The court considered that his explosive vest was defective, seriously calling into question the statements of the person concerned on his renunciation.
The irreducible life imprisonment is the heaviest sentence in the French Penal Code.
This real perpetuity makes it impossible to request a sentence adjustment. A person sentenced to this penalty may, however, after 30 years in prison, ask the sentencing court to reconsider this impossibility.
The court can only reduce the duration of the security period under certain conditions and after the opinion of a commission composed of five judges from the Court of Cassation responsible for determining whether it is necessary to put end to the application of the decision of the Assize Court.
To be able to benefit from an extension of his unlimited security period, the convicted person must demonstrate serious guarantees of social rehabilitation. The court ensures that its decision is not likely to cause a serious disturbance to public order and collects the opinion of the victims beforehand.
The 32-year-old Frenchman remained with his arms folded and his eyes hard in the box throughout the reading of the deliberations, delivered after 148 days of hearing, which makes it the longest trial of the trial. x27; French legal history.
I am not an assassin, I am not a killer, he argued in his last words to the court on Monday morning, reiterating his sincere apologies to the victims.
The courtroom specially built for this trial had never been so crowded, and the survivors and relatives of victims huddled against each other on the wooden benches, in an electric atmosphere.
Salah Abdeslam is the sole survivor of the terrorist commandos that left 130 dead and hundreds injured in Paris and Saint -Denis on November 13, 2015.
Professional magistrates convicted Salah Abdeslam's 19 co-accused, dismissing the terrorist qualification for only one of them, Farid Kharkhach.
Mohamed Abrini, the man in the hat of the Brussels attacks, who was also planned in the November 13 commandos, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 22-year security sentence.
Osama Krayem and Sofien Ayari, whose prosecution had shown the certainty that they were to carry out an attack at Amsterdam airport on November 13, 2015, were sentenced to 30 years in prison , two-thirds of which are security.
Mohamed Bakkali, considered by the national anti-terrorist prosecutor's office as the right-hand man for the cell's logisticians, also received 30 years of imprisonment, of which two-thirds security.
Six defendants were tried in their absence, including five senior executives of the armed group Islamic State, presumed dead, including the alleged sponsor of the attacks, the Belgian Oussama Atar.
The sentences handed down range from two years to life imprisonment.
The three defendants who appeared free were sentenced to suspended prison terms and will not return to prison .
The convictions are generally below the requisitions of the national anti-terrorism prosecution, which had requested sentences ranging from five years' imprisonment to life.
The sentences are quite heavy. They won't get out of jail right away. We're going to savor it, I feel a lot of relief. Six months of trial, it helps to rebuild. It's over, it's going to leave a void, commented Sophie, a survivor of the Bataclan at the exit of the courtroom, with tears in her eyes.
Six years after a night of terror that traumatized France and after a river trial marked by the chilling stories of survivors or relatives at the helm – out of more than 2,600 civil parties -, defense lawyers had warned the court against the temptation of exceptional justice guided by emotion.
Of the commando of ten suicide bombers of November 13, 2015, only Salah Abdeslam is still urge. The other nine are dead, killed either by setting off their explosive belts on the evening of the attack, or by law enforcement fire.