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TERRORISM

French female jihadist gang sentenced to up to 30 years in jail for failed Notre Dame attack

A French court on Monday sentenced five member of an all-female jihadist cell to between five and 30 years in prison over a failed bid to detonate a car bomb outside Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

French female jihadist gang sentenced to up to 30 years in jail for failed Notre Dame attack
The target of the failed attack was Paris' iconic Notre-Dame cathedral. Photo: AFP

The case is the first to involve a group of women attempting to stage an attack in France, which has been repeatedly targeted by jihadists since 2015, causing the loss of 255 lives.

The five women, aged between 22 and 42, were arrested after a car packed with gas cylinders was found parked near the bustling esplanade in front of the cathedral in the heart of the capital on November 4th, 2016.

The two main defendants, Ines Madani and Ornella Gilligmann, had doused the car with diesel in the middle of the night and tried but failed to set it alight with a cigarette.

They were sentenced to 30 years and 25 years in prison respectively.

This court sketch made on September 23, 2019 in Paris courthouse, shows (LtoR) Ines Madani, Ornella Gilligmann and Sarah Hervouet during the trial of five women on charges of an alleged plot to detonate a car bomb in front of Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral.

The women are believed to have been acting on the orders of Rachid Kassim, a French ISIS propagandist also suspected of ordering the grisly murder of a French police couple at their home in June 2016.

Kassim is believed to have been killed in an air strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul in February 2017.

Madani, 22, was arrested in a Paris suburb a few days after the failed attack along with two other defendants, Sarah Hervouet and Amel Sakaou, who were each sentenced to 20 years.

The three burst out of the apartment to which they had been tracked down by police, brandishing knives.

Hervouet stabbed an officer in the shoulder, while Madani was shot in the leg.

Gilligmann was arrested in southern France.

A fifth woman, Samia Chalel, was also tried for allegedly helping hide Madani. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

The court heard how Madani posed as a male jihadist online to try recruit women for ISIS and won over Gilligmann in messages exchanged online.

Madani's lawyers described her as a lonely young woman with half-baked attack plans and a death wish – a far cry from the prosecution's characterisation of a determined gang of would-be killers.

Madani told the court on Monday she regretted her actions.

“At the time all my plans involved death. Today, my plans are about life,” she said.

Gilligmann, a married mother of three, spoke emotionally of the “shame” she had brought on her family and asked for forgiveness from the victims of terrorism.

Her lawyers argued she had acted out of love for a fictitious jihadist named Abou Junayd, for whom she left her husband.

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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.

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