French court hands down life sentence to train attacker

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Court

A court in Paris handed down a life sentence to the main suspect behind a thwarted terrorist attack on a train in 2015, and shorter terms to three others accused of helping him, French media reported.

The three helpers in the attack were sentenced to 27, 25 and seven years in prison, AFP news agency reported on Thursday evening.

The main defendant said he had wanted to kill soldiers from the United States and members of the European Commission on the train, according to the report.

The defendant said the attack had been carried out on behalf of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who organized the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, when Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people, including in Bataclan concert hall.

The incident on the train drew widespread attention – and was turned into a film – when the attackers were thwarted by a group of US tourists who overpowered the accused after one of them started shooting on the train.

Two people were injured in the incident on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris.

The three US tourists were given honorary French citizenship. Clint Eastwood made a film about the incident in 2018 called “The 15:17 to Paris,” in which the US tourists played themselves.

The 31-year-old accused, a Moroccan national, had earlier told the court his life story, saying that he spent some time in Spain and Belgium before going to Syria to join Islamic State, according to a report by broadcaster France Inter.

He reportedly said his profession was pastry chef.

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