The sole surviving member of a cell alleged to have carried out the November 2015 terrorist bombings and shootings across Paris insisted he was not a killer, as the nine-month trial drew to a close.
“I’ve made mistakes, but I’m not an assassin. I’m not a killer. If you convict me for murder you will be committing an injustice,” Salah Abdeslam told the special court in Paris on Monday.
“My first words are for the victims. I have already said sorry. Some of you will say I am insincere, that this is a strategy … as if apologies could be insincere given so much suffering,” Abdeslam, 32, added.
The 14 men in the dock accused of involvement in the jihadi attacks were given a last chance to speak before sentencing on Monday.
Mohamed Bakkali, accused of offering assistance to the attackers, told the court: “I strongly condemn these attacks. I am sincerely presenting my apologies to the victims. I didn’t do it before because words had no place faced with their pain.”
Only one of those present, Osama Krayem, who has refused to speak throughout the trial, remained silent.
During the trial, which opened last September, Abdeslam admitted he was a “fighter for Islamic State” and said he had chosen not to set off his suicide vest, which was found near a rubbish bin in northern Paris.
The public prosecutor has requested a full life sentence for Abdeslam with very little, if any, possibility of being freed.
Olivia Ronen, Abdeslam’s lawyer, said such a sentence would be the equivalent of a “slow death sentence”.