Mastermind Behind Paris and Brussels Attacks Likely to Get Out By Age 50

By Published on March 27, 2016

The Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks have killed a combined 161 people, but the man believed to have planned both attacks, Salah Abdeslam, will likely spend a majority of the rest of his life in freedom.

Other suspects may be out as early as their mid 30s.

Abdeslam — who pulled out of the Paris attack last minute and spent the next four months planning an attack on his hometown Brussels — was arrested Friday close to his home. France, Abdeslam’s country of citizenship, is asking to get him extradited to prosecute him for his involvement in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

The highest sentence under French law is “real life” imprisonment. Real life sentences have a minimum of 30 years before a convict can apply for parole. The only applicable offenses are murder, assassination and rape, torture and barbarianism of a minor under the age of 15, according to France TV Info. The law has not caught up to include terrorist activities, unless the acts include the above crimes.

Since Abdeslam never actually killed a person with his involvement in either of the attacks, he will face a maximum of life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after 22 years.

So Abdeslam could get out in 2038, at the age of 48. With good behavior and no obvious indications that he will return to crime, it will be difficult for a European court to keep Abdeslam in prison much longer than that.

Actual life sentences are extremely rare in Europe because of human rights regulations set by the European Convention on Human Rights. Denying a person the chance of rejoining society one day is considered “inhumane and degrading treatment” by the current French standards.

Any suspects caught for involvement in the Brussels attacks will face even shorter sentences than Abdeslam. A life sentence in Belgium can only be given to people convicted of murder. Life imprisonment comes with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

A landmark trial in 2015 sentenced 45 Belgian terrorists of the terror network “Sharia4Belgium” to time in prison ranging from three to 15 years. The founder and leader of the group, Fouad Belkacem, got 12 years for recruiting the other 44 fighters to Islamic State.

Some French law makers have been pushing for longer prison sentences for terrorism offenses, according to France TV Info. No changes will apply to Abdeslam since laws are not retroactive.


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