“Where this decision does not seem to me to be in line with justice, it is that Salah Abdeslam receives the same sentence as Oussama Atar (presumed sponsor of the attacks, editor’s note) who was sentenced in exactly the same terms”, regretted Me Martin Vettes, one of his lawyers, on France Inter.
Salah Abdeslam killed “by proxy”. “The sanction is not heavy, it is fair”, indirectly replied the boss of the national anti-terrorism prosecution (Pnat), Jean-François Ricard, questioned on France Info.
Of the fourteen defendants who appeared at the trial of the November 13 attacks, Salah Abdeslam is the only one to have been sentenced to incompressible life imprisonment, which dims any hope of release.
The irreducible perpetuity prohibits requesting any adjustment of sentence before thirty years and makes such a measure highly improbable.
The special assize court scrupulously followed the requisitions of the Pnat which had claimed this exceptional sentence against the 32-year-old Frenchman.
The court saw in Salah Abdeslam a “co-perpetrator” of the attacks of November 13, 2015 which left 130 dead in Paris and Saint-Denis.
Salah Abdeslam admitted having accompanied to the gates of the Stade de France the suicide bombers who blew themselves up there. On the other hand, he was neither on the terraces, where his older brother Brahim blew himself up, nor at the Bataclan.
But, in its judgment, summarized at the hearing by President Jean-Louis Périès, the court stipulated that all of the attacks on the terraces, the Stade de France and the Bataclan constituted a “single crime scene”.
Under these conditions, Salah Abdeslam was, according to the court, the “co-perpetrator” of the attempted murders against the police during the bloody hostage-taking at the Bataclan.
“I am not a killer, I am not an assassin,” Salah Abdeslam had defended himself, in vain, at the hearing.
“We cannot be satisfied with a decision which puts on an equal footing the sponsor of the attacks of November 13 and Salah Abdeslam who is not the sponsor obviously”, insisted Me Vettes.
High dignitary of the Islamic State organization, Osama Atar, presumed dead in the Iraqi-Syrian zone, is considered to be the sponsor of the attacks which hit Paris and Saint-Denis.
Tried by default like six other defendants, he was sentenced like Salah Abdeslam to irreducible life imprisonment.
“We are on a great elasticity of criminal law which was sold to us by the prosecution”, estimated Olivia Ronen, another lawyer for Salah Abdeslam.
“Legally I find it extremely complicated, we propose to condemn a person who we know was not at the Bataclan as if he were there and therefore there are questions that arise”, pointed out the lawyer. “You can’t hide a disappointment that there was something, I think, a little strange about the application of the law,” she said.
Even on the benches of the civil parties, some lawyers were surprised by the severity of the sentence.
“I am appalled” by this sentence, which amounts to saying that Salah Abdeslam is “absolutely irrecoverable”, thus entrusted to AFP Me Claire Josserand-Schmidt, lawyer for 37 civil parties.
“For a lawyer, it’s incomprehensible,” she added. “We cannot say that today in 2022 we have absolute certainty that in 24 years Salah Abdeslam (who has already served six years in pre-trial detention, editor’s note) will not present any hope of rehabilitation”, she said. said.
Defense lawyers, like the public prosecutor, have ten days to appeal.
“We have a deadline of ten days. We will exploit it,” said Martin Vettes. “Ultimately it is a decision that comes back” to Salah Abdeslam, he said.
On the Pnat side, Jean-François Ricard indicated that it was “out of the question to get carried away”. “We will see at the end” of the ten-day period, he said.