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Main suspect handed life sentence for 2015 Islamist attacks on Paris

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Lawyers and participants gather in the courthouse on the day of the verdict’s announcement.

PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (REUTERS) – A French court on Wednesday (June 29) handed down a guilty verdict for all of the 20 men tried for the 2015 killing of 130 people in a coordinated gun-and-bomb rampage by Islamist gunmen in Paris.

The Bataclan music hall, six bars and restaurants and the perimeter of the Stade de France sports stadium were targeted in hours-long attacks across the French capital that shook France and left deep scars on the country’s psyche.

Main suspect Salah Abdeslam was found guilty on terrorism and murder charges, judge Jean-Louis Peries said.

Sentencing will come later on Wednesday. Abdeslam faces possible life imprisonment with no possibility of early release, a sentence only handed out four times in France.

Believed to be the only surviving member of the group that carried out the attacks on Nov 13, 2015, the 32-year old Belgium-born Frenchman proudly said at the start of the trial that he was a “soldier” of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

But he and some of the other accused later apologised to the victims.

It has been a trial like no others, not only for its exceptional length of 10 months, but also for the time it devoted to allowing victims to testify in detail about their ordeal and their struggles in overcoming it, while families of those killed spoke of how hard it was to move on.

Thirteen other people, 10 of whom are also in custody, were also in the courtroom during the months-long hearings, accused of crimes ranging from helping provide the attackers with weapons or cars to planning to take part in the attack. Six more were tried in absentia.

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