More than six years after the attacks of November 13, the special assize court of Paris sentenced Wednesday evening Salah Abdeslam, the only member still alive of commandos who killed 130 people, to incompressible life imprisonment, the most heavy under the penal code.
After ten months of a historic hearing, 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 recognized by the court as a co-author of the attacks in Paris and Saint -Denis who had “stunned” France.
Incompressible perpetuity makes the possibility of liberation miniscule. It had so far only been pronounced four times.
Salah Abdeslam, in a khaki polo shirt in the box, remained impassive when the verdict was announced. During the reading of the deliberation by President Jean-Louis Périès, which lasted less than an hour, he kept his arms crossed, his eyes hard.
His lawyers, My Olivia Ronen and Martin Vettes, had pleaded Friday against this incompressible life sentence, a "slow death sentence". They did not wish to react Wednesday evening.
The 32-year-old Frenchman, in total isolation in prison for more than six years, affirmed several times during the debates that he had "given up" on triggering his explosive belt on the evening of November 13, 2015, out of "humanity".
The explosive vest he was wearing "was not functional", calling "seriously into question" the statements of the person concerned on his "renunciation", underlined the court.
" Rebuild "
She found him guilty of being a "co-perpetrator" of a single crime scene. He is thus condemned to the irreducible life sentence for the only attempted murders on the police officers intervened during the attack on the Bataclan.
In the courtroom specially built for this trial, which had never known such a crowd, only murmurs greeted the conviction of the main defendant.
Many civil parties, squeezed on light wooden benches, hugged each other after the verdict, delivered after 148 days of debates marked by nearly 400 statements from survivors and relatives of victims.
Others had tears in their eyes.
“The path in the face of this horror was to rebuild as a group, not individually. We needed to stick together and hear what justice had to say to us after six and a half years ”, reacted Arthur Dénouveaux, president of the association of victims Life for Paris and survivor of the Bataclan.
The professional magistrates condemned the 19 co-defendants of Salah Abdeslam - six were tried in absentia - by dismissing the terrorist qualification for only one of them, Farid Kharkhach.
He was sentenced to two years in prison for conspiracy to commit a fraud, and was due out of prison overnight.
The sentences pronounced for the others range from four years, of which one year is firm, to life imprisonment.
Former President of the Republic François Hollande, who came to testify at the trial, welcomed the end of an "exceptional" and "exemplary" trial. “The culprits were tried in accordance with the law,” he said.
Life for Abrini
The prosecution had requested five life sentences for five of the 14 defendants present.
In addition to Salah Abdeslam, the court condemned Mohamed Abrini to this sentence, accompanied by a security period of twenty-two years. “The man in the hat” of the Brussels attacks in March 2016, who was also “planned” but gave up being part of the November 13 commandos, was found to be an accomplice in the attacks.
"Perpetuity, we expected it, he expected it, maybe even more than us," said his lawyer to AFP, Me Marie Violleau.
The Swede Osama Krayem, the Tunisian Sofien Ayari and the Belgian-Moroccan Mohamed Bakkali were also recognized as accomplices in the attacks, but sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment with a security of two thirds.
Pakistani Muhammad Usman and Algerian Adel Haddadi, the two "disgruntled operatives" who should have been part of the commandos according to the prosecution but were blocked on the way back from Syria, were each sentenced to eighteen years in prison . The Advocates General had asked for twenty years against them.
The sentences imposed on those who had provided occasional assistance to the jihadist cell are generally below the requisitions.
The three defendants who appeared free were sentenced to suspended prison terms and will not return to prison.
They displayed smiles and relief, and were comforted by a few civil parties who spontaneously approached them.
“We have the feeling after the verdict that we are turning a page. We had a long trial, opened all the doors. (The judges) made a decision that was very reasoned. The sentences imposed are not excessive”, underlined Me Gérard Chemla, lawyer for more than a hundred civil parties.
"We are at a satisfactory time for everyone, at least for justice," he added.
The defense lawyers were divided between these convictions deemed both severe but also below the requisitions of the prosecution.
They had in their pleadings warned the court against the temptation of "exceptional justice" guided by emotion, more than six years after this night of terror at the Stade de France, on the terraces of eastern Paris. and at the Bataclan, the worst attacks ever committed in France.
The five senior executives of the Islamic State group presumed dead in Syria and tried in absentia, including the sponsor of the attacks Osama Atar, were sentenced to irreducible life imprisonment. A sixth man imprisoned in Turkey and also tried in his absence was sentenced to XNUMX years in prison.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)