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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 14°C
ABACA/PA Images The trial's Paris courtroom
# November 2015
Prosecutors request life sentence for main Paris attack suspect
The request for no chance of parole is rare in France, where prisoners on life sentences are often released after 20 to 25 years.

PROSECUTORS HAVE REQUESTED a life sentence without parole for the main suspect in the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.

Salah Abdeslam is the only surviving member of the attackers who opened fire in the packed Bataclan concert hall and on cafe terraces in adjacent streets, and detonated suicide bombs at the Stade de France sports arena.

The request for no chance of parole is rare in France, where prisoners on life sentences are often released after 20 to 25 years.

Also on trial are 19 others accused of various degrees of assistance to the killers.

For three of them, prosecutors also requested standard life sentences — two for suspected high-ranking Islamic State members thought to have been killed in Syria or Iraq, and one for Mohamed Abrini, a Belgian accused of having provided weapons and logistical support.

The length of the trial, its emotional charge and the number of plaintiffs — 2,500 — have made it the most impactful legal proceeding in French history.

The remainder of the trial will now be dedicated to closing statements by defence lawyers.

The verdict is due on 29 June.

Abrini, known as the “man in the hat” from video footage, would go on to take part in suicide bombings that struck Brussels in 2016, though he decided not to detonate his vest at the last minute.

Abdeslam has also claimed during the trial that he had a last-minute change of heart, which failed to convince the prosecution.

“Those who committed these heinous crimes are nothing more than lowlife terrorists and criminals,” one prosecutor, Nicolas Le Bris, told the court on Friday at the end of three days of closing statements by the prosecution.

“The bloodthirsty fury of these criminals was without limit,” he said.

They wanted “a massacre and carnage” when they attacked the Bataclan “and sadly they succeeded,” he said. “A balmy November evening turned into a nightmare.”

On Wednesday, prosecutor Camille Hennetier had told the court that what would be remembered about the trial were the names of the victims being read out in court and the testimony of the survivors, but also “the cruelty of the terrorists who fired again and again and took pleasure in killing”.

Even after years of painstaking investigation, “much remains in the dark” about how the attacks were planned and carried out, she said.

“Most of the accused know. They know everything and have never spoken, and probably will never answer,” she said.

Abdeslam, who was arrested in Belgium after five months on the run, kept silent during the police investigation but started talking during the trial, explaining how he gave up plans to blow himself up, and apologised to victims.

But his tearful appeal for forgiveness had little impact on the prosecutors, who believe that his explosive belt simply malfunctioned.

Prosecutors also said that Abdeslam’s claim that he was recruited by a jihadist cell only a few days before the attacks was “illogical”.

© AFP 2022