Judges retire to consider verdicts from Paris attacks trial

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Five judges overseeing the trial of the November 2015 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other targets around Paris traveled to a secret location on Monday to review their verdicts.

The purpose-built court in central Paris held its final hearings on Monday after nine months of testimony and questioning that saw the sole surviving Islamic State attacker, Salah Abdeslam, beg for clemency.

“I have apologized to you. Some people will say they are insincere…as if apologies could be insincere in the face of so much suffering,” Abdeslam, 32, told the court in his closing statement on Monday.

“I went to prison at 26. I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes, it’s true. But I’m not a murderer, I’m not a killer,” he added , dressed in a gray sweater and with his hair cut short.

“If you convict me of murder, you are committing an injustice.”

During the trial, which began last September, Abdeslam did not deny having deposed other suicide bombers or being part of the plot for the Paris attack on November 13, 2015, which killed 130 people.

But he said he backed out of his mission to blow himself up in a bar in northern Paris – which prosecutors claimed was untrue.

Citing his own letters and previous statements, prosecutors say Abdeslam’s suicide belt was faulty, meaning he could not have blown himself up.

Verdicts for him and 19 other suspects on trial are due on Wednesday afternoon by five judges who were taken to a secret location in the Paris region to ponder their verdicts.

Only 14 people appeared before the historical court, the other six being missing or presumed dead.

Prosecutors have requested a life sentence without parole for Abdeslam, who is French but grew up in Brussels and has family roots in Morocco.

The November 2015 attacks were the greatest peacetime atrocity in modern French history, sending shockwaves across the country and making clear the threat posed by the Islamic State group from its base in Iraq and Syria. .

The majority of those on trial issued apologies and appeared to show some measure of remorse on Monday, including one of Abdeslam’s co-defendants and close friends, Mohamed Abrini.

“I put faces to the victims. I am aware that what happened is disgusting,” he told the court.

“In a way, I could have stopped all that,” added the 37-year-old Belgian, who admitted in court that he was initially chosen for the 10-man squad that attacked Paris.

Abrini, accused of providing weapons and logistical support, took part in separate suicide bombings that hit Brussels in 2016, although he decided against detonating his vest at the last minute.

Prosecutors have requested that he serve a life sentence with a minimum sentence of 22 years in prison.

(AFP)


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