Paris attacker given life sentence

Court sketch of Salah Abdelsalam (standing,right) trial AFP/ BENOIT PEYRUCQ

A French court has handed a life sentence to the only surviving member of a group that killed 130 people in a night of carnage across Paris.

Salah Abdeslam was found guilty on terrorism and murder charges, with no possibility of early release, the most severe criminal sentence possible in France and one handed out only four times previously.

Nineteen other men judged for helping organise the November 13, 2015 attacks that targeted the Bataclan music hall, six bars and restaurants and the Stade de France sports stadium were also all found guilty.

"Justice has been served," Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said. "Against inhumanity, it's our democracy's strength to respond with justice to the attacks that plunged our city and our country in mourning. Paris remembers and will always stand by the victims and their families."

Arthur Denouveaux, a survivor of the Bataclan attack, where 90 people died, called it a fair ruling. "It will help us," Denouveaux, who heads a victims' association, told reporters, while adding: "it's not healing everything."

A defiant Abdeslam had said at the start of the trial that he was a "soldier" of Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks. He later apologised to the victims and said during the trial that he had chosen at the last minute not to detonate his explosive vest but, based on the investigations and hearings, the court ruled otherwise.

"The court considered that the explosive vest malfunctioned," judge Jean-Louis Peries said. Abdeslam is "guilty of being a member of a terrorist network," he also said.

The ruling can be appealed, and some lawyers of the accused hinted they would do so. The 120-page text of the ruling is set to be made public on Thursday.

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