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13 Dec, 2022 22:11

France convicts eight over Nice attack

Tunisian and Albanian nationals had provided support to ISIS terrorist who killed 86 and injured 458 people
France convicts eight over Nice attack

Seven men and a woman have been given sentences ranging from two to 18 years in prison for their involvement in the July 2016 terrorist attack in Nice. The special court in Paris ruled on Tuesday the Tunisian and Albanian nationals had associated with or provided weapons to Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day.

Mohamed Ghraieb and Chokri Chafroud were sentenced to 18 years in prison each for association with a terrorist. The third defendant, Ramzi Arefa, received a 12-year sentence and a 15-year ban on weapons possession or transportation.

Sentences ranging from two to eight years in prison were handed down to other defendants charged with weapons trafficking and criminal conspiracy. French media named three Albanian nationals – Artan Henaj, Enkeledja Zace, and Maskim Celaj – and said two of them were also permanently banned from entering France.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31, had driven a tractor-trailer for about 2km down the Promenade des Anglais, targeting the crowd of around 30,000 that gathered to watch the July 14 fireworks. The attack ended when he was fatally shot by police. Among the 86 dead and 458 injured were 15 children.

IS claimed responsibility for the gruesome attack, declaring Lahouaiej-Bouhlel “one of the soldiers of Islamic State.”

Presiding judge Laurent Raviot said the attack had “an obvious jihadist inspiration,” pointing to Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s interest in radical Islam and his determination to kill as many people as possible. However, there was no evidence that could actually link him to the terrorist group.

The attacker’s relatives described him as a man with serious psychological problems, obsessed with sex and prone to violence, who had only become interested in Islam the month before. French investigators said he “self-radicalized” by watching jihadist videos online.

The Nice trial opened in September at the Palais de Justice in Paris, with one of the defendants being tried in absentia. The venue was the same courtroom used for the trials of terrorists involved in the November 2015 series of attacks, which killed 130 people across the French capital, most of them at the Bataclan theater.

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