Salah Abdeslam (C) and Sofien Ayari (L) speak in court during the trial of the 2016 Brussels terror attacks, at the Justitia building in Brussels, Belgium, 03 April 2023. EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS / Faces pixelated at source


Brussels terrorists finally sentenced


Seven and a half years after the devastating Islamic terror attacks in the Belgian capital Brussels, the culprits finally know what their punishment is.

Six perpetrators were declared guilty of terrorist murder and attempted murder in late July. On September 15, the courts determined their punishment for the atrocities.

Three men, Oussama Atar, Osama Krayem and El Makhoukhi, have been jailed for life. Surprising some, two of the terrorists, Salah Abdeslam and Sofien Atari, did not get extra terms as they had already been convicted for a shoot-out with anti-terror police.

The court reasoned that the shooting and the attacks were intertwined and they had already been sentenced to 20 years. In addition, they had already received life terms without the possibility of early release for their role in attacks in Paris in November 2016.

Likewise, Mohamed Abrini, referred to by media as “the man in a hat” based on CCTV images on the day of the Brussels attack in 2016, also was handed down a 30-year term rather than life as the court in Paris already sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 22 years.

The Brussels court further decided not to revoke the nationality of some terrorists. The president of the court Laurence Massart said it was legally possible but that to do so would be “excessive” and too harsh. She did revoke their political and civil rights, so they have lost their right to vote, for example.

“Our multicultural society is based on values and rules that apply to everyone,” Massart said. “This common foundation is the guarantee for coexistence in a state governed by the rule of law. Below this lies the right to life and tolerance.

“The punishment takes into account the fear you have caused to innocents and your personalities.”

The suicide attacks on March 22, 2016 killed 35 people and injured hundreds.

The court case against the terrorists was dubbed by media as “the trial of the century”. It started on December 5, 2022, and ended on September 15.

The convicted terrorists have two weeks to appeal.