Paris suspect Abdeslam sentenced to 20 years over Brussels shootout

Paris suspect Abdeslam sentenced to 20 years over Brussels shootout
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Brussels: A Belgian court today 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.
In its judgment, the court in the Belgian capital said “there can be no doubt” about jihadist Salah Abdeslam and his co-defendant Sofiane Ayari’s involvement in extremism.
Prosecutors had asked for 20-year jail terms for both.
Neither 28-year-old Abdeslam — who is being held in jail in France pending a separate trial over the 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died — nor Ayari, 24, were in court for the verdict.
Four police officers were wounded in the gun battle after police acting on a tip-off over the Paris attacks raided a flat in the Forest area of Brussels on March 15, 2016.
Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national, was arrested three days later in the largely immigrant Molenbeek area of the Belgian capital, near his family home.
On March 22 suicide bombers from a cell linked to the Paris attacks killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more at Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.
The judgment said Abdeslam had written a document addressed to his mother saying that “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.” He 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. (AFP)