On 7 March , Mehdi Nemmouche was found guilty by the jury of the terrorist murders of the four individuals in the museum attack, and of the illegal possession of the weapons used in the attack. In the reasoning the jury gave for its verdict , required by Belgian law, the main evidence against Nemmouche was summed up. The evidence against Nemmouche that convinced the jury included the fact he was carrying the weapons used in the attack with him when he was arrested in Marseille, together with the clothing the perpetrator worn as seen on the security footage from the museum.
Both the weapons and the clothing had his DNA on them, and gunshot residue was also found on the clothing in question. A footprint of the sneakers he had with him was found on the entrance door of the museum. When he was arrested, he was also carrying some electronic media with him, on which videos were discovered wherein Nemmouche claimed responsibility for the attack in the name of ISIS.
On other electronic media belonging to Nemmouche data was discovered, such as web browsing history , which proved Nemmouche had been planning the attack.
Eyewitnesses identified Nemmouche as being the perpetrator. Lastly, on a computer belonging to Najim Laachraoui , one of the suicide bombers of the Brussels bombings , conversations were discovered wherein Nemmouche was described as a "brother", and plans were discussed to liberate him from his incarceration. The jury considered that the material evidence and eyewitness testimony proved Nemmouche was the perpetrator of the attack.
Based on the security footage of the museum, the expert testimony of the medical examiners who examined the bodies of the victims, and the type of weapons used, the jury found Nemmouche had the intention to kill. The jury furthermore affirmed the premeditated nature of the killings based on the preparatory acts Nemmouche carried out, such as the procurement of the weapons he used. The terrorist intentions of Nemmouche were upheld based on his jihadist stay in Syria from to , the videos he made in which he claimed responsibility for the attacks in the name of ISIS, and the conversations about Nemmouche retained from Najim Laachraoui's computer.
The verdict also rejected the claim that Nemmouche was set up by intelligence officials. The jury lamented that the defence did not bring forward any element that would support those allegations.
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The existence of a set-up was therefor deemed to lack "sufficient plausibility and credibility". Aside from Nemmouche, the jury also found Nacer Bendrer guilty of weapons crimes and of being the co-author, and not just the accomplice, of the terrorist attack by supplying the weapons and ammunitions Nemmouche used. According to Belgian law, being the co-author of a crime means that one's aid was indispensable in the commission of the crime, i.
The verdict stated Bendrer was aware of Nemmouche's radicalisation and adherence to Islamic extremist beliefs from when they got to know each other in , during their incarceration in Salon-de-Provence, France. Telephone data showed that, after having had no contact for four years, Nemmouche sought contact again with Bendrer on 9 April , after which Bendrer traveled to Brussels a few days later. After numerous contacts since, Nemmouche traveled to Bendrer's hometown Marseille , France on 24 April , and telephone data pinpointed him in the area of Bendrer's home around that time.
After Nemmouche's return to Brussels, all contact ceased between them two. Investigators testified they took steps to hide their communications and encounters, by for example switching between multiple phone numbers and SIM cards.
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The jury concluded their encounters could only have served to provide Nemmouche with weapons, because of the absence of any other plausible reason Bendrer had to travel to Brussels, because of the absence of any other source where Nemmouche could have procured the weapons from, and because Bendrer had later also admitted to investigators to have supplied Nemmouche with the weapons.
As to the defence's argument that Bendrer did not know to which crime he would contribute, the jury retorted that Bendrer wilfully omitted to inform himself. The jury found that Bendrer should have known the weapons would be used to perform a terrorist act, based on their nature and based on the radicalisation of Nemmouche that Bendrer was aware of.
After the guilty verdict for both men, a sentencing hearing was held on 11 March Nemmouche and Bendrer could both have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the crimes they had been found guilty of. The prosecution did not see any mitigating circumstances on the part of Nemmouche, and requested a sentence of life imprisonment for him. Regarding the second accused, the prosecution requested a somewhat lighter sentence of 30 years of imprisonment for Bendrer because he did not directly participate in the killings.
The prosecution also requested to sentence both men to a year period of judicial surveillance. This provision would mean that if they would ever be released on parole , they would be monitored by a sentence enforcement court, which could potentially revoke their release and order their incarceration for an additional 15 years. Bendrer's defence stressed he should not be treated the same way as Nemmouche, and that him having to live with the label of "terrorist" for the rest of his life was already a punishment in itself. Nemmouche's defence chose not to present any argument about the sentence.
After the court deliberated with the jury on the penalty, as per Belgian law, both men were sentenced on 12 March Nemmouche was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Bendrer received a year prison sentence.
In addition, Nemmouche was sentenced to a year period of judicial surveillance, and Bendrer to a 5-year period of such surveillance. In its judgment, the court stated that the terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum constituted an attack on the fundamental values of Belgian society, in particular the freedom of religion of the Jewish community of Belgium. The court considered Nemmouche's troubled upbringing to be no mitigating circumstance for such a grave act, and it also took into account the violent nature of the murders, Nemmouche's rejection of the rechtsstaat , and his complete lack of empathy and respect for his victims, amongst other factors.
According to the court, he presented a high risk of recidivism. Regarding Bendrer on the other hand, the court described him as having played a decisive role in the attack by supplying the weapons used to Nemmouche. The court considered he knew what they would be used for, and was indifferent to the consequences to others. However, the court also upheld some mitigating circumstances, such as Bendrer having steered clear of any Islamic extremism since his arrest, and him having shown empathy and regret for the victims.
Bendrer was deemed to present a low risk of recidivism. Bendrer later lodged an appeal in cassation against his conviction with the Court of Cassation. This meant the civil part of the proceedings before the court of assizes without the jury with regards to damages had to be postponed. On 18 September , the Court of Cassation rejected the appeal, which established the criminal sentence as final. Subsequently, on 22 October the court of assizes awarded , euro in damages to the victims' next of kin and the Jewish Museum, to be paid by both convicts.
Joel Rubinfeld of the Belgian League Against Antisemitism described the act as "the inevitable result of a climate that distills hatred Rise Up, Belgians , on the eve of the Belgian federal elections.
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In a statement the league said, "These crimes with racist and anti-Semitic accents are unfortunately likely to reverse in our country the efforts of all those who, on a daily basis, are working for a society where everyone, regardless of his religious and philosophical beliefs, can live in dignity and respect. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano recalled "the needing to keep in guard and be ready to wear out every regurgitation of antisemitism" and declared "I am always close to the world of Jewish communities yet again harshly hit".
Ministry of Interior Angelino Alfano declared "Dead and injured from the Bruxelles' attack are also our dead and injured" and stressed that "there are no motives in the world that can allow all of this". The Dutch minister of Foreign affairs, Frans Timmermans , expressed his solidarity to his Belgian colleague. He said that he was shocked by the cowardly attack. An affront against the values our modern Europe represents. In written statement, "Turkey hopes the attack was not related to "racist or anti-Semitic " motives.
Or else we will be very concerned over the result of the latest EU Parliament elections , which was very disappointing. There is a need to establish a pan-European taskforce in order to annihilate anti-Semitism.
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The governments of Europe have to take steps, words aren't enough. Lauder reacted with shock, saying "Two years after Toulouse, and on the eve of the European elections, this despicable attack is yet another terrible reminder of the kind of threats Europe's Jews are currently facing. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Roubaix , France. Belgium portal.
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