Abdeslam Paris suspect sentenced to 20 years over Brussels shootout

BRUSSELS- 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.

The judgment in court said “there can be no doubt” about jihadist Salah Abdeslam and his co-defendant Sofiane Ayari’s involvement in extremism.

Prosecutors did ask for 20-year jail sentence for both of the accused.

Abdeslam, 28  who was in custody in France pending a separate trial over the 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died or Ayari, 24, appeared in court for the verdict.

The attack left four police officers were wounded in the shootout, after police acted on a tip-off over the Paris attacks. They then raided a flat in the Forest area of Brussels on March 15, 2016 were the shootout occurred.

Abdeslam is a Belgian-born French national, he was arrested three days later in the largely immigrant Molenbeek area of the Belgian capital, near his family home after a manhunt was issued out for him.

He is linked to the March 22 suicide bombers, one of the planners in a cell linked to the Paris attacks that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more at Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.

The judgment included Abdeslam’s written a document addressed to his mother which said, “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.”

His document 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.

He has been transported to the court from France with tight security including a helicopter escort, but after his first appearance in court he has refused to attend the rest of the trial.

Photo Credit- Daily Express

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