SHARE
COPY LINK

TERRORISM

Paris attacks suspect Abdeslam gets 20 years behind bars over Brussels shootout

A Belgian court on Monday found Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, guilty of terrorism-related attempted murder over a shootout with police in Brussels days before his capture in 2016, and sentenced him to 20 years in jail.

Paris attacks suspect Abdeslam gets 20 years behind bars over Brussels shootout
Salah Abdeslam Photo: AFP
In its judgment, the court in the Belgian capital said “there can be no doubt” about jihadist Salah Abdeslam and his co-defendant Sofiane Ayari's involvement in extremism.
   
Prosecutors had asked for 20-year jail terms for both.
   
Neither 28-year-old Abdeslam — who is being held in jail in France pending a separate trial over the 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died — nor Ayari, 24, were in court for the verdict.
   
Four police officers were wounded in the gun battle after police acting on a tip-off over the Paris attacks raided a flat in the Forest area of Brussels on March 15, 2016.
 
READ ALSO: 
Sven Mary, the Belgian lawyer representing Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam. Photo: AFP   
 
Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national, was arrested three days later in the largely immigrant Molenbeek area of the Belgian capital, near his family home.
   
On March 22 suicide bombers from a cell linked to the Paris attacks killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more at Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.
   
The judgment said Abdeslam had written a document addressed to his mother saying that “Allah guided me and chose me among his servants to open his path. 
It is for that reason that I had to fight the enemies of Allah with all my strength.”
   
He added that his brother Brahim, who blew himself up during the Paris attacks, “did not commit suicide — he is a hero of Islam.”
   
The judgment on Monday said that 34 shots in total were fired during the shootout.
   
Belgian police mounted tight security around the imposing Palace of Justice building in Brussels for the verdict.
 
'Trust in Allah'
 
Abdeslam has spent most of the last two years in jail in France.
   
He was transported to the court from France for the first day of the trial amid tight security including a helicopter escort, while Tunisian national Ayari, 24, is in jail in Belgium.
   
On the first day of the trial, Abdeslam proclaimed that he would only put his “trust in Allah” and accused the court of being biased against Muslims.
   
He then refused to attend the rest of the proceedings.
   
Investigators say Abdeslam's arrest spurred the Brussels bombers to bring forward the 2016 attacks, which had originally been planned for a later date, as they feared they could be captured.
   
Prosecutors have said that DNA links Abdeslam to the apartment in the Forest district of Brussels where the shooting took place, but not to the weapons that were used.
   
After Abdeslam refused to return to court for the trial in February, his lawyer Sven Mary sought the case's dismissal on a technicality over how the judges were named to investigate the gun battle, and said media leaks had denied him a fair trial.
   
But lawyers for police wounded in the gun battle accused Abdeslam of “mocking” the trial. 
   
One of the injured police officers was still suffering from after-effects including brain lesions, epileptic fits and vision and balance problems.
   
An organisation representing victims of the Brussels attacks and their families has asked for symbolic damages of one euro from the trial.
   
The Belgian trial is a prelude to a bigger one that Abdeslam will face in France at a later date over the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, which were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.

SHOW COMMENTS