Last Paris attacks suspect not to appeal Belgium sentence

Brussels (AFP) –


Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, will not appeal his 20-year prison term over a gun battle with police in Brussels that led to his capture, his lawyer says Monday.

Four police officers were wounded in the gun fight, which came four months after the November 2015 Paris attacks, and days before suicide bombings in Brussels as a wave of Islamic State-inspired terror swept Europe.

Reached by AFP, Abdeslam's lawyer Sven Mery confirmed a Belgian news report that his client would not appeal the sentence handed down last month for terrorism-related attempted murder.

He did not elaborate on the reasons behind the decision.

Abdeslam's co-defendant Sofiane Ayari was also sentenced to 20 years in prison, the maximum demanded by Belgian prosecutors, after he was convicted of the same charge.

It is not yet clear whether Ayari will appeal.

Neither Abdeslam, 28, a Belgian-born French national, nor Ayari, a 24-year-old Tunisian citizen, was in court to hear the verdict.

Abdeslam is being held in jail in France pending a separate trial over the Paris attacks, claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, in which 130 people died.

On the first day of the trial, Abdeslam proclaimed that he would put his "trust in Allah" and accused the court of being biased against Muslims, before refusing to answer or attend any more days of the hearing.

The pair were convicted of opening fire on a team of Belgian and French police who raided a flat in the Forest area of Brussels on March 15, 2016, following a tip-off about the Paris attacks.

An Algerian jihadist was killed in the raid as he provided covering fire for Abdeslam -- at the time the most wanted man in Europe -- and Ayari to escape.

Abdeslam was arrested and shot in the leg in a dramatic police operation three days later in the largely immigrant Molenbeek area of the Belgian capital, near his family home.

On March 22, suicide bombers from a cell linked to the Paris attacks killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more at Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.