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Nice: Eight guilty over the deadly Bastille Day lorry attack

  • Published
    13 hours ago

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Image source, Reuters

All eight defendants have been found guilty over the July 2016 lorry attack in the southern French city of Nice in which 86 people were killed.

Seven men and a woman were sentenced by a special court in Paris to jail terms ranging from two to 18 years.

Three were convicted of association with a terrorist, while five others were found guilty of supplying weapons.

The attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was shot dead after driving a lorry into crowds on Bastille Day.

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The 31-year-old Tunisian ploughed through a crowd of some 30,000 people who had been enjoying a fireworks display for France’s national day on 14 July.

Careering through the coastal city’s seafront boulevard Promenade des Anglais for more than 2km (1.2 miles), Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s victims included 15 children.

Hundreds of people were injured in the massacre – one of the worst attacks in Europe in recent years.

The verdicts were announced on Tuesday, following a lengthy trial at the special courtroom in the French capital.

Mohamed Ghraieb and Chokri Chafroud, both Tunisian nationals who were friends of the killer, were handed the heaviest sentences of 18 years in jail. The two men had denied any wrongdoing.

Ramzi Arefa, another defendant, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for providing weapons to the attacker.

The three men had received texts and Facebook messages from the killer in the run-up to the attack. None was charged with being part of the conspiracy, but the court ruled that they did know in a general way of the attacker’s terrorist inclinations.

The five other defendants, four Albanian nationals and a Tunisian, were given jail terms from two to eight years on weapons trafficking charges or criminal conspiracy.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, but French investigators never found any proof that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had links with them.

The two-month trial was a chance for survivors and families of victims to testify about their memories of a night which has left deep scars on the city of Nice, the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

The trial took place at the historic Palais de Justice in Paris, in the same purpose-built courtroom that hosted the hearings for the November 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died – the worst peace-time attack France has ever seen.

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