Attentats de Bruxelles : la justice belge condamne Mohamed Abrini à trente ans de réclusion, Salah Abdeslam échappe à la perpétuité

The Brussels Assize Court, responsible for determining the sentences for eight defendants in the double terrorist attack on March 22, 2016, at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station, did not sentence Frenchman Salah Abdeslam to life imprisonment on Friday, September 15, as many had expected. The court referred to a previous decision by Belgian justice in 2018, when Salah Abdeslam was sentenced to twenty years in prison for a shootout with police in Forest in March 2016. However, he was considered one of the co-perpetrators of the Brussels attacks, which he had tried to deny until the end.

Mohamed Abrini, his accomplice and friend, was sentenced to thirty years of imprisonment, along with a “placement” (supervision by the parole board) of five years. The other defendants, several of whom had already been convicted for their involvement in the 2015 Paris attacks, received sentences ranging from ten years in prison to life imprisonment (Osama Krayem, who had previously been sentenced to thirty years in Paris with a two-thirds mandatory minimum).

At the end of July, the Brussels popular jury, consisting of twelve members, had convicted Salah Abdeslam, Mohamed Abrini, and four of their co-defendants for “murders and attempted murders in a terrorist context.” Two other defendants were found guilty of “participating in the activities of a terrorist group,” while the remaining two were acquitted. The attacks carried out by four of their accomplices carrying explosives resulted in the death of 35 individuals. The court of assizes decided to add three additional deaths that occurred later to the initial list of 32 victims.

La procédure belge exige, après une délibération quant à la culpabilité, un autre débat portant sur les peines. Il a, cette fois, réuni le jury et trois magistrats pendant les derniers cinq jours, dans un lien tenu secret.

Je ne peux pas reformuler.

In what seemed like a last-ditch effort, Salah Abdeslam’s lawyers filed an urgent appeal on September 4th, aiming for their client to serve his sentence in Belgium rather than in France. In June 2022, Abdeslam was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for his involvement in the November 13th, 2015 attacks. “Sending me to France is sending me to death,” said the defendant, citing his family ties in Belgium. However, the French justice system handed him over to Belgium in July 2022, with the condition that he crosses the border by September 30th at the latest.

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