The only surviving suspect in the terror attacks that hit the French capital, Paris, in 2015, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Belgian court over a shootout with police in Brussels months later.
The court in Brussels found Salah Abdeslam, 28, guilty of attempted terrorist murder of police during the March 2016 shootout in the Belgian capital.
Neither Abdeslam nor co-accused Sofien Ayari, 24, who was also given a 20-year jail term, were present at the courtroom, according to Belgian news agency Belga.
Despite the absence of both accused, security was tight around the Brussels court, with heavily armed police on guard.
Abdeslam is a French citizen born to Moroccan parents in Brussels.
The attacks on November 13, 2015, saw Daesh-linked gunmen and bombers attack a variety of locations in Paris, including a concert hall, a stadium, restaurants, and bars, killing a total of 130 people.
Following the attacks, Abdeslam, whom French prosecutors believe played the main role in the Paris attacks, became Europe’s most wanted man.
Prosecutors accused Abdeslam of helping organize the attacks and ferry Takfiri militants, who had earlier fought in Syria, around Europe. They say he, too, would have died if his explosive vest had not failed to detonate.
After four months at large, he was eventually found hiding in a flat in his home district of Molenbeek in Brussels alongside Ayari.
Before being arrested, they got into a gun battle with Belgian police who raided the flat.
Four days after his arrest, bombers attacked Brussels Airport and the city’s metro, killing 32 people.
Abdeslam is believed to have had links with the bombers and that they brought forward their attack because they feared Abdeslam might reveal their plans under interrogation.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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