“I've made mistakes, but I'm not a murderer” says Salah Abdeslam

At the end of the trial of those involved in the terror attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis on 13 November 2015. The lone survivor of the terrorist cell that carried out the attacks, Salah Abdeslam used his right to the last word to tell the court that he “is not a murderer”. 

The Judges at the Court of Assize in Paris will now deliberate on the evidence that has been put before the court during almost 10 months of the trial. 

On its 148th session day the trial at the Court of Assize in Paris has entered its final phase: the deliberation. The 5 judges that are sitting in the special assize court have will now decide on the question of innocence or guilt and if a guilty verdict is passed, determine an appropriate sentence.

Before deliberation got under way the 20 suspects were given the right to have the last word. Prime suspect Salah Abdeslam, the lone survivor of the terrorist group, took advantage this to reiterate that he had not killed anyone as he didn’t destinate his explosive belt.

"I've made mistakes, that's true, but I'm not a murderer. I am not one to kill people. If you convict me of murder, it would be unjust."

However, he conceded that a maximum sentence would certainly be appropriate for the November 13 attacks "but not for the people who are on trial here". The worst perpetrators are those who died in the attacks, Abdeslam said. 

Salah Abdeslam followed the line taken by his ​​his lawyers during the trial. Last week they asked for him not to be given the maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. According to them, the Court of Assizes should take into account that Salah Abdeslam did not blow himself up and that did not shoot at police officers. "If that's not taken into account, you're telling future terrorists that it makes no difference whether they follow through or not. It will encourage them not to give up, because all is lost anyway." 

According to prosecutors, Salah Abdeslam did not fail to blow himself up and cause carnage to dozens of others of his own free will. The reason he did not blow himself up is that his explosives belt failed to destinate, the French prosecutors say. 

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