8 Convicted of Terrorist Attack in France in 2016 Which Killed 86 People

PARIS (AP) — A French court on Tuesday found eight people charged with a truck attack by an Islamic State sympathizer that killed 86 people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, on the French Riviera, more than six years ago.

The judge’s decision comes after 3 1/2 months of sometimes heartbreaking testimonies by survivors of the 2016 attack during the trial describing the horror and carnage they witnessed that Thursday summer night and the impact it has had on their lives ever since.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the driver of the truck, which climbed above the crowd watching the fireworks, was killed by the police the night of the attack.

Eight defendants, seven men and one woman, were found guilty of helping him stage a terrorist attack. The judge handed them prison sentences ranging from two to 18 years. Prosecutors admitted that not all of them had a clear link to terrorism or knew what Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was planning.

The couple, most closely related to Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, Mohamed Ghraeib and Chokri Chafroud, were convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to the longest prison terms at 18 years.

The prosecution said they both had an “intense relationship” with Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. Ghraieb, in particular, had known the attacker for 15 years, went to the same gym and made 1,278 phone calls with him in a year.

Survivors of the attack reacted positively to the news.

“While it’s nothing compared to what we’ve been through, I’m glad to see the two main defendants sentenced to 18 years in prison,” said survivor Laurence Bray. “This decision is a relief. Now there will be a big void.”

Other defendants convicted on Tuesday, such as Remzi Arefa, were said to know more vaguely of the perpetrator’s plans. He was found guilty of selling weapons to the attacker, who allegedly did not know his terrorist intentions. Arefa was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The trial was painful for the survivors and the families of the victims. Some were able to come to Paris for the hearings, but many watched on a secure online site or at a special screening center set up near the Nice waterfront.

Among the victims, 33 were foreign nationals and 15 were children. More than 2,400 people are on the civilian side of the case.

On July 14, 2016, thousands of people filled Nice’s famous boardwalk on the Mediterranean coast to celebrate France’s national holiday. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel crashed his 19-tonne truck at full speed into families, tourists and others on the picturesque Promenade des Anglais in 4 minutes and 17 seconds, killing 86 people and injuring 450.

While investigators found Lahouaiej-Bouhlel to support the Islamic State group, they found no clear evidence of his affiliation with IS agents. The group was active in Syria and Iraq at that time.

The truck massacre followed deadly attacks by the extremist group at the Bataclan theater in Paris and elsewhere in France and Belgium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *