Paris court upholds life sentence for Thalys train attacker

A police van believed to be transporting Moroccan Khazzani leaves the courthouse in Paris

By Juliette Jabkhiro

PARIS (Reuters) -Paris' appeal court on Thursday upheld a life sentence for an Islamist militant who in August 2015 opened fire aboard a high-speed train travelling through northern Europe but who was overpowered by three Americans before he killed anyone.

Moroccan national Ayoub el Khazzani was heavily armed when he launched his attack moments after the Thalys train crossed into France from Belgium.

A Paris court in December 2020 had found the defendant guilty of attempted murder with intent to commit terrorism.

The appeal court confirmed the verdict and life sentence, and added the man would spend at least 22 years in prison without parole.

At the time of the Thalys attack, France was still recovering from the trauma of Islamist militant attacks in Paris seven months earlier against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

In November that same year, 130 people were killed in a series of coordinated Islamist attacks on a Paris concert hall, bars and stadium.

Clint Eastwood, the U.S. actor and director, made a movie based on the Thalys attack entitled "The 15:17 to Paris".

(Writing by Dominique Vidalon and Tassilo Hummel, editing by Ingrid Melander, Alexandra Hudson)