By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Jeffrey Schaefer and Barbara Surk
PARIS ( Associated Press) — Lawyers for the lone surviving perpetrator of the November 2015 terroristic massacre in Paris have criticized his client’s death sentence and a life sentence without the possibility of parole, saying Thursday’s ruling “raises serious questions.” ”
Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the Islamic State attacks on the Bataclan Theatre, Paris Cafe and France’s national stadium that killed 130 people, was found guilty on Wednesday of murder and attempt to murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, among other charges. went.
His lawyer, Olivia Ronen, argued during the marathon trial of Abdeslam and 19 other men that his client had not detonated his explosives-filled vest and had not killed anyone on the night of the deadliest peacetime strikes in French history.
Belgium’s Abdeslam, 32, was given the harshest sentence in France for the murder and it “raises serious questions,” Ronen said in an interview with the public radio station France Inter.
During his trial testimony, Abdeslam told a special terrorist court in Paris that he was last minute involved in a nine-member explosives squad that launched coordinated attacks on several sites on November 13, 2015 in the French capital. was spread.
Abdeslam said he walked into a bar with explosives tied to his body, but changed his mind and detonated the detonator. He said he couldn’t kill people “singing and dancing”.
The court found that Abdeslam’s explosive vest was defective, rejecting his claim that he chose not to proceed with his part of the attack due to a change of heart.
The other nine attackers either blew themselves up or were shot dead by the police. The worst massacre took place in Bataklan. Three gunmen reached the spot while firing indiscriminately. Ninety people died within minutes. Hundreds of people were taken hostage – some seriously injured – hours before then-president François Hollande stormed the theater.
Defense lawyer Ronen said Abdeslam was nowhere near Batcalan at any point that night, suggesting he did not deserve France’s most severe murder sentence.
“We have condemned a man we know was not in Bataclan as if he was there,” Ronen said. “It raises serious questions.” He did not say whether Abdeslam would appeal the verdict and sentence.
Four times in the country so far life imprisonment without parole has been given for offenses related to rape and murder of minors.
The special terrorism court also convicted 19 others involved in the attacks.
Of the other defendants, 18 were given various terrorism-related sentences, and one was convicted of less fraud. Some were sentenced to life imprisonment; Others were freed after being sentenced for a period of time.
They have 10 days to appeal.
Surak reported from Nice, France. Associated Press writers Alex Turnbull, Oleg Satinik and Masha McPherson in Paris contributed to this report.