By Hajare El Khadi
Rabat – French jihadist Salah Abdeslam and his Tunisian accomplice Sofiane Ayari were sentenced to 20 years in prison for participating in a 2016 shooting against police officers in Brussels, on Monday, April 23.
In accordance with requisitions from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the criminal court found Abdeslam and Ayari guilty of attempted murder of a terrorist nature, reported BBC.
The judge, Marie France Keutgen, declared that Abdeslam and Ayari’s anchorage in radicalism undoubtable.
“Their intention is clear from the nature of the weapons they used, the number of bullets they fired and the nature of police officers’ wounds. Only the officers’ professional response prevented it being worse,” said Keutgen.
Abdeslam, a 28-year-old French national born in Brussels to French-Moroccan parents, is the only surviving suspect of the 2015 Paris Attacks, which claimed the lives of 130 people and left more than 350 injured.
Abdeslam was reportedly involved in petty crime in Belgium before becoming radicalized along with his brother, Brahim Abdeslam, in 2014.
The brothers both allegedly joined a French-Belgian network linked to the Islamic State (IS), which claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, as well as the metro bombings in Brussels, which killed 35 people only few days before Abdeslam’s arrest in 2016.
Victims of Brussels’s metro attack requested to be regarded as a civil party in Monday’s ruling; however, the court denied their wish saying that no links had been established between incident and the two suspects.
Hunting Abdeslam, Belgian police carried out a raid in the forest area near Brussels, on March 15, 2016, which lead them to the flat in which Abdeslam and Ayari resided along with other occupants.
The residents and the Belgian police exchanged fire, resulting in the death of one of the three occupants and the wounding of three officers.
Abdeslam previously refused to answer questions at his trial opening in Belgium, on February 5, earlier this year.
Refusing to stand, the defendant protested that he would not answer any questions and he would remain silent throughout the trial.
“My silence does not make me a criminal or guilty. I am defending myself by remaining silent.” He added, “I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of your allies. I put my trust in Allah and that’s all.”