The special assize court of Paris judges on appeal from this Monday the foiled attack on the Thalys train. Only one man in the box, the train shooter Ayoub El Khazzani. At first instance, the Moroccan was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“I have nothing to declare,” said the accused in French after the presentation of the facts by President David Hill. On August 21, 2015, Ayoub El Khazzani, 33, boarded the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris train in Brussels armed with a Kalashnikov, a semi-automatic pistol, a box cutter and nearly 300 rounds of ammunition.
He had been prevented from committing a massacre only by the “heroic” intervention of several passengers, including three American soldiers in civilian clothes who were on vacation at the time. These three Americans, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, since decorated with the Legion of Honor and who received French nationality in February 2019 for having “risked their lives for the values of the Republic”, should testify on November 29 in front of the court.
An accused trained in Syria by Abdelhamid Abaaoud
In accordance with the requisitions of the public prosecutor, the court sentenced Ayoub El Khazzani to life imprisonment for “attempted terrorist assassinations”. His sentence had been accompanied by a security period of twenty-two years and a permanent ban from French territory after his sentence.
This first trial did not shed light on the terrorist project targeting Thalys passengers, which announced the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris.
During the first trial, Ayoub El Khazzani explained that he wanted to “avenge” the civilian victims of the bombardments of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the international coalition.
It was during a short stay in Syria, in May 2015, that he was trained by Abdelhamid Abaaoud (killed during a police attack on November 18 in Saint-Denis), considered the leader of the commandos of the 13 November 2015.
During the first trial, Ayoub El Khazzani had maintained that he had received the sole mission of his sponsor to kill American soldiers and members of the European Commission present on board the train. This explanation had been deemed “fanciful” by the court. The appeal trial is scheduled until December 9.