Does Salah Abdeslam deserve irreducible life imprisonment? In his defense, the answer is clearly no. “If you follow the prosecution, terrorism has won,” hammered Me Olivia Ronen after trying to dismantle one by one the arguments put forward by the national anti-terrorism prosecution during its requisitions. For her, the maximum sentence of the penal code, pronounced against only four defendants “all psychopaths in the medical term of the term”, amounts “to making a cross on the scale of sentences, on the fact that he speaks or don’t speak”.
By this sentence, Me Martin Vettes, the other lawyer for Salah Abdeslam who pleaded this Friday, believes that “the prosecution asks you to definitively neutralize an enemy by condemning him to the social death penalty”. “A white death” for his colleague, who demands a fair sentence and above all leaves hope for freedom to his client, placed in strict isolation for six years, recalling that he “did not shoot any victim”.
“Of course we expect a heavy sanction, he gave his help to the Islamic State and he recognizes it, he accepted to be part of the commando, he dropped three men before fleeing. ‘we expect a heavy sanction but we have the impression that we have lost all sense of proportion, that there is no longer a scale of penalties, no more measures”.
“If he had known…”
To avoid incompressible life imprisonment for their client, the two lawyers endeavored to dismantle the arguments of the anti-terrorism prosecution. Already the legal arguments: this sentence can only be pronounced for the most serious crimes, those which would concern Salah Abdeslam are those of attempted murder against the BRI police officers who intervened during the final assault on the Bataclan on the evening of November 13 2015.
“With a gift of ubiquity, he will be condemned because attacks are committed at the same time and the attackers have a common objective, to sow terror”, deplores the lawyer, who strongly denounces the will of the prosecution to condemn his client as a “co-author”.
For his colleague Me Vettes, Salah Abdeslam is not “a black box that knows everything from the start”. “Besides, if Salah Abdeslam “had known from the start”, “he would not have found himself with an explosive vest on November 13, continues the lawyer, very clear throughout his argument. Me Ronen defends the idea of a terrorist recruited at the last moment to face the withdrawal of Mohammed Abrini. Unlike the other members of the commandos, he does not have “kunya”, the Arabic nickname given to jihadist fighters, and he has not made protest videos.
“It was not scheduled for November 13. I know that it is not easy to believe this recruitment, that we make a terrorist in 24 hours, recognizes Me Olivia Ronen.
Abdeslam’s credible version for his defense
Moreover, the lawyer tends to demonstrate that the version delivered by Salah Abdeslam during the trial is credible. Last March, he explained that he was scheduled to blow himself up in a bar in the 18th arrondissement. After entering this bar, he said he had “given up” out of “humanity”. The prosecution had asked during its requisitions not to take these statements into account, considering that they did not change anything concerning the sentence incurred.
Me Olivia Ronen recalled that the prosecution, during its requisitions and only at this time, also mentioned that the cafes targeted by the terrorists were all located at angles. Last March, Salah Abdeslam admitted to having given up on blowing himself up in a café located “on a corner”. In addition, Mohammed Amri, one of the men who came to pick up Salah Abdeslam on the evening of the attacks, declared in the context of another procedure in 2016 that the jihadist had confided to him when he returned from Paris “that he had returned to a cafe that he had to blow himself up”.
Regarding the explosive belt abandoned by Salah Abdeslam in Montrouge, Me Olivia Ronen notes that her client took care to remove the push button to make it unusable. “If Salah Abdeslam seeks to reduce the danger of his explosive belt by removing the press button and the battery when he abandons it, it is because he does not know that it does not work”, she pleads. The analyzes on the belt made it possible to establish that it was defective but no element can certify that it was activated or not.
The floor of the defendants on Monday
Finally, there remains the thorny question of de-radicalization. For the prosecution, Salah Abdeslam has not yet taken the path. “Salah Abdeslam would be incurable, he would have expressed no remorse… Would you be so cynical as to think that this trial had no use? Where have you been since September? crack?”, annoyed the lawyer. With force, as throughout her pleading, she set out to recall the changes of her client who, last September, declared himself a “fighter of the Islamic State” and who last April presented his apologies.
“I was worried that I had taken him too far, but he went there alone. He came out of his shell. For six years, he had only one suit in his closet. After 9 months, he had found new what to dress differently”, insisted Me Ronen evoking the path taken by his client. “Getting out of radicalism is like learning to swim in a pool. He lets go but doesn’t stray too far from the edge because if he strays too far, he drowns.”
Salah Abdeslam, face mask and clean-shaven, listened carefully to his lawyers who say they “would not have allowed themselves to be so hopeful” when they first met with their client. Arms crossed most of the time, he seemed embarrassed when his lawyer brought up this aspect. On Monday, he and the other defendants will have the floor one last time. The court will then retire to deliberate. The verdict is expected Wednesday evening.
Original article published on BFMTV.com