PARIS — The only surviving assailant of the November 2015 terrorist massacre in Paris has waived his appeal against his murder conviction and his life prison sentence, his lawyers announced on Tuesday.
Salah Abdeslam was found guilty last month of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, among other charges, for his participation in the attacks by the Islamic State group against the Bataclan theater, Parisian cafes and the national stadium of France which killed 130 people.
Judges at the Paris Special Anti-Terrorism Court handed Abdeslam the harshest sentence possible in France – life imprisonment without parole – for participating in the country’s deadliest peacetime bombings on November 13, 2015.
According to his lawyers, Abdeslam, a 32-year-old Belgian, decided “to waive his right to appeal” the verdict and the sentence “for reasons known only to him”.
“This does not mean that he adheres to the verdict and the resulting unsuspended life sentence,” the lawyers, Olivia Ronen and Martin Vettes, said in a statement. They added: “It means he has resigned himself.”
Paris Attorney General Remy Heitz confirmed that Abdeslam did not appeal before the Monday evening deadline. Neither 19 other men convicted at the same trial for various terrorism-related crimes nor the public prosecutor at the Paris Court of Appeal have done so either, meaning the verdicts are final, Heitz said. in a statement Tuesday.
Defense attorney Ronen maintained throughout Abdeslam’s marathon trial that his client did not detonate his explosive-filled vest or kill anyone on the night of the attacks. She strongly criticized the conviction after the end of the trial, telling a French radio station that it “raises serious questions”.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ronen and Vettes said the life sentence for Abdeslam was “unacceptable” but that they “respect the decision of the person we represent.”
“There is no honor in condemning the vanquished to despair,” the lawyers said.
During his testimony at trial, Abdeslam said he was a last-minute addition to the nine-member team that deployed to the French capital to launch the coordinated attacks on multiple sites.
Abdeslam said he walked into a bar with explosives strapped to his body, but changed his mind and deactivated the detonator. The court found that Abdeslam’s explosive vest had malfunctioned, rejecting his claim that he had decided not to follow through with his part of the attack.
The other eight assailants, including Abdeslam’s brother, either blew themselves up or were killed by the police. Abdeslam led three of them to the scene of the attacks that night.
The Special Anti-Terrorism Court also convicted the other 19 men involved in the attacks. Eighteen received various terrorism-related convictions, and one was convicted of a lesser fraud charge. Some were given life sentences; others walked free after being sentenced to prison.