PARIS – The only surviving attacker from the November 2015 terrorist massacre in Paris has renounced the right to appeal his murder conviction and life prison sentence, his lawyers said Tuesday.
Salah Abdeslam was found guilty last month of murder and attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise, among other charges, for involvement in the Islamic State group attacks on the Bataclan theater, Paris cafes and France’s national stadium that killed 130 people.
Judges of the special anti-terrorist court in Paris gave Abdeslam the most severe sentence possible in France – life imprisonment without parole – for participating in the country’s deadliest peacetime attacks on Nov. 13, 2015.
His lawyers said Abdeslam, a 32-year-old Belgian, decided “to give up his right to appeal” the verdict and sentence “for reasons only known to him.”
“This does not mean that he adheres to the verdict and the life sentence without parole which results from it,” the lawyers, Olivia Ronen and Martin Vettes, said in a statement. They added: “It means he has resigned himself to it.”
Paris Attorney General Remy Heitz confirmed that Abdeslam did not file an appeal before a Monday night deadline. Neither 19 other men who were convicted at the same trial of various terrorism-related crimes nor France’s public prosecutor at the Paris Court of Appeals did either, meaning the verdicts are final, Heitz said in a statement on Tuesday.
Defense lawyer Ronen argued throughout the marathon trial of Abdeslam that her client did not detonate his explosives-packed vest or kill anyone the night of the attacks. She fiercely criticized the sentence after the trial ended, telling a French radio station that it “ raises serious question.”
In a statement Tuesday, Ronen and Vettes said the sentence of life without parole for Abdeslam was “unacceptable" but they ”respect the decision of the person we are representing.”
“There is no honor in condemning the vanquished to despair,” the lawyers said.
During his trial testimony, Abdeslam said he was a last-minute addition to the nine-member team that spread out across the French capital to launch the coordinated attacks at multiple sites.
Abdeslam said he walked into a bar with explosives strapped to his body but changed his mind and disabled the detonator. The court found that Abdeslam’s explosives vest malfunctioned, dismissing his claim that he decided not to follow through with his part of the attack.
The other eight attackers, including Abdeslam’s brother, either blew themselves up or were killed by police. Abdeslam drove three of them to the locations of the attacks that night.
The special terrorism court also convicted the 19 other men involved in the attacks. Eighteen were given 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 time served.