French ISIS extremist to be retried as prosecutors seek life term instead of 30 years

A court sketch made on June 25, 2020 at the Paris courthouse shows French extremist Tyler Vilus speaking during the opening of his trial at a Paris courthouse, on the crimes committed in Syria between 2013 and 2015. (AFP)

A French extremist given a 30-year jail term last week for crimes committed in Syria, will be retried after prosecutors appealed Thursday seeking life imprisonment.

On Friday, a court jailed Tyler Vilus, 30, for crimes committed between 2013 and 2015 when he was a senior figure in the ISIS extremist group, including overseeing the execution of two prisoners.

Vilus was found guilty of all the charges against him, including membership of a terror organization, heading a group of IS fighters, and “aggravated murder.”

The judges handed down a 30-year prison term, of which Vilus would have to serve at least two-thirds, or 20 years, before parole can be considered.

France’s National Anti-Terror Prosecutor’s office had sought a life sentence, with a minimum 22 years to be served, and said on Thursday it had filed an appeal against the ruling.

The appeal automatically gives rise to a retrial in front of a court that will be specially constituted as this concerns a terror case.

At the original trial, public prosecutor Guillaume Michelin sought the highest sentence arguing Vilus “hasn’t changed one bit” since his time with the ISIS.

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“All the steps in the accused’s journey are interlocked with the construction of the caliphate,” said the prosecutor, referring to the Islamist-ruled area that ISIS had carved out in Syria and Iraq.

“It is your responsibility to put a definite end to the bloodshed,” he told the court at the time.

But the presiding judge said he wanted to leave the convicted man with “a glimmer of hope” and an opportunity to “evolve.”

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The trial court found that Vilus had supervised executions as a member of the religious police in the north-eastern Syrian town Ash Shaddadi, close to the Iraqi border.

In a 2015 video released by the Islamic State's media department, a man alleged to be Vilus is two meters away as two kneeling and blindfolded prisoners -- one belonging to the Free Syrian Army rebel fighters and the other a member of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army -- are executed with a bullet to the head.

His arrest and trial were seen as a major coup for the French security services, as Vilus is believed to have known many French extremists in Syria.

Vilus had admitted to being in contact with Abdelhamid Abaaoud -- the man French secret services believe is the mastermind of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

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Last Update: Thursday, 09 July 2020 KSA 17:05 - GMT 14:05
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