Paris attack suspect jailed in Belgium
Published: 05:40 PM, 23 April 2018
Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris attacks; Pic: Collected
The sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam has been jailed for 20 years in Belgium over a gunfight that led to his arrest.
Salah Abdeslam, 28, and co-defendant Sofien Ayari, 24, were both convicted of terror-related charges of attempted murder and given a 20-years of jail sentence as they both fired on officers who raided a flat in Brussels in 2016.
He is being held in a jail in France and is due to face trial there over the Paris attacks themselves. But he had refused to answer questions from the judge in the trial in Brussels and eventually refused to attend the hearings.
Neither he nor Ayari, 24, was in court as the verdict was read out on Monday. Both received the maximum 20-year term requested by prosecutors.
The judge, Marie France Keutgen, said that there can be no doubt about the two men`s involvement with radicalism.
She added their intention is clear from the nature of the weapons they used, the number of bullets they fired and the nature of the police officers` wounds. Only the officers` professional response prevented it being worse.
It is noted that Belgian police carried out a raid to hunt Abdeslam in the Forest area of Brussels on March 15, 2016. Media caption Damian Grammaticas reports from the scene of the raid.
When they moved in they exchanged fire with the three occupants. One of the three was killed and three officers were wounded.
Abdeslam and Ayari managed to escape, but Abdeslam`s fingerprints were found in the flat, confirming his presence there. He was picked up days later in a raid in the nearby Molenbeek area and later transferred to France.
Salah Abdeslam is believed to have played a key role on 13 November 2015 when militants targeted a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more.
French prosecutors believe Abdeslam helped the jihadists by hiring cars, flats and hotel rooms although his role in the actual shootings and bombings is unclear.
French and Belgian authorities released Abdeslam`s photo and name a day later by which time he was one of Europe`s top fugitives.
Several flats were raided by Belgian police over the next few months. He was finally picked up on 18 March 2016.-BBC