Belgian court gives man suspended sentence for sheltering 2015 Paris attacker Abdeslam
A Belgian court imposed a three-year suspended sentence Thursday on Abid Aberkane, convicted of assisting the sole surviving jihadist behind the November 2015 Paris attacks by housing him in Brussels.
The ruling came a day after a French court sentenced Aberkane’s guest Salah Abdeslam, a 32-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan origin, to life imprisonment for his role in the deaths of 130 people in the Paris attacks.
Abdeslam was the only surviving member of the jihadist cell that attacked the French national sports stadium, bars and the Bataclan concert hall in an assault immediately claimed from Syria by the IS group.
He fled to Brussels after the Paris attacks and 14 Belgian-based suspects have been accused of providing support for the cell, including by housing him during his time on the run before his arrest.
Among the defendants, four were acquitted, one was sentenced to community service, and three have been given a delay before sentencing.
Two more defendants are presumed dead after they travelled to fight in Iraq or Syria and were tried in absentia.
They had already been convicted of terrorism in Belgium and received no additional sentence at this trial.
The Belgian judges were cautious, and rejected several elements of the prosecutors’ case, in a trial seen as a sideshow to the blockbuster main event in Paris.
Abid Aberkane, cousin of Salah Abdeslam, is one of the two defendants to receive a suspended prison sentence.
Abdoullah Courkzine, who was involved in helping one of the attackers flee the Saint-Denis suburb north of Paris after the attacks, received a 30-month suspended sentence.
Finally, an 18-month jail sentence was pronounced against Soufien Al Aroub, a friend and logistical support of Ahmed Dahmani who was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in the Paris trial, and is detained in Turkey.
Lazez Abraimi received 35 days for trafficking in weapons.
The Belgian judgments fell the day after the verdicts of the special assizes court of Paris.
After 10 months of hearings, the judges condemned 20 men — including six tried in absentia — involved in the worst peacetime atrocity ever committed in France.