Sun, Feb 10, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Militants get life for deadly Tunisia attacks on tourists

AFP, TUNIS

A Tunisian court has sentenced seven militants to life in prison over attacks in 2015 at a museum and on a beach that killed 60 people, many of them British tourists, prosecutors said yesterday.

Dozens of defendants faced two separate trials over the closely linked shootings, which occurred just months apart in Tunis and Sousse, but many were acquitted.

Four were sentenced to life in prison for the shooting rampage at a Sousse tourist resort on June 26, which killed 38 people, mostly British tourists.

Five other defendants in the Sousse case were handed jail terms ranging from six months to six years, while 17 were acquitted, prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti said.

Three were given life sentences for the March 18 attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, in which two gunmen killed 21 foreign tourists and a Tunisian security guard.

Others found guilty of links to the Bardo attack were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to 16 years, while a dozen defendants were acquitted, Sliti said.

The prosecution would launch an appeal, he added.

The court heard that the two attacks, both claimed by the Islamic State group, were closely linked. Several defendants pointed to fugitive Chamseddine Sandi as the mastermind of both.

According to Tunisian media, Sandi was killed in a US air strike in Libya in February 2016, although there has been no confirmation.

Among those who were facing trial were six security personnel accused of failing to provide assistance to people in danger during the Sousse attack.

Victims’ family members in France and Belgium watched Friday’s hearing via a live video feed.

“It was important for us to see, and especially to hear — to try to understand the role” of each defendant, one French survivor said. “Arriving at the end of the process will help us to turn the page, even if we can never forget.”

The live feed brought some degree of comfort to relatives, said Gerard Chemla, a lawyer for French victims.

“The trial allowed them — by organizing the video conferencing and giving the floor to lawyers chosen by the victims — to finally be recognized as victims by the Tunisian state,” he said.

The Sousse attack, which killed 30 Britons, is also the subject of proceedings in front of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, which is seeking to establish what happened.

After holding inquests into the British deaths in January and February 2017, judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith concluded that the response of Tunisian police was “at best shambolic, at worst cowardly.”

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