Paris attacks: Surviving bomber Salah Abdeslam found guilty of mass murder

T

he only suicide bomber to survive the worst terrorist attack in the recent history of France will spend the rest of his life in prison, judges have ruled .

Salah Abdeslam, 32, has no hope of parole for his part in the November 2015 atrocities in which 130 people were murdered.

On Wednesday night, five specialist anti-terrorist judges sitting in Paris announced that Abdeslam was guilty of various terrorist related charges along with 18 other defendants.

Abdeslam was ‘fully integrated into the terrorist cell’, said court president Jean-Louis Périès.

It followed a marathon ten-month trial at a specially built court in the Palais de Justice in Paris.

Abdeslam, a French Moroccan national from Belgium, claimed he deliberately pulled out of the rampage in which other ISIS terrorists including his own brother were blown to pieces.

Pleading for leniency this week, he said: “I know that there is still hate for me. I ask you to hate me with moderation.”

He also described himself as a “Soldier with Islamic State’” and had been on a remand in a prison on the outskirts of Paris.

AP

The court found that Abdeslam was part of the “commando unit” that attacked the Stade de France national sports stadium in Paris, together with six restaurants and bars, and the Bataclan music hall.

Fourteen of the 20 original defendants were in court, but six were tried in absentia, with most of them presumed to have died fighting for ISIS in Syria or Iraq.

The mammoth legal process – the biggest in French history – began in September.

Prosecutors allege that Abdeslam’s explosive vest malfunctioned and that he then ran away from the French capital in the hours after the Friday 13thattack.

“I’m going to explain myself because this is the last time I can do it,’ he said while being cross-examined in April.

“I’m going to do the best I can, I’m going to do my best,’ he said, as he complained about his portrayal in the media.

Abdeslam said he had first been told about the plans for the attack by Abdelhamid Abaaoud – the leader of the Isis cell, who died in an explosion afterwards.

“He told me about blowing myself up and it was a shock,’ said Abdeslam. ‘I was thinking of going to Syria. I didn’t feel ready.”

AFP via Getty Images

Days after his arrest in March 2016 after a four-month manhunt that ended in a shootout in Brussels, suicide bombers alleged to be part of the same cell struck at the city’s airport and on the city Metro, killing 32 and injuring hundreds.

Abdeslam has already been sentenced in Brussels to 20 years in prison for the shootout that accompanied his arrest.

Also facing life in prison was Mohamed Abrini, Abdeslam’s 36-year-old childhood friend, who is believed to have travelled to the Paris region with the attackers.

Abrini was later captured on CCTV with the two Brussels airport bombers and became known as ‘The Man in the Hat’.

The investigation into all those involved in the Paris trial took six years and its written conclusions stretch to 53 metres (174 feet) when lined up.

Around 450 plaintiffs – wounded victims and relatives of those who died – appeared in court to recount their ordeals.

The Paris attacks trial will ‘stand as a landmark for justice,’ said Philippe Duperron, whose son was killed in the Bataclan.

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