8 in France face verdict over Nice extremist truck attack


PARIS — A French jury is expected to render verdict Tuesday for eight people charged in connection with a truck attack by an Islamic State sympathizer that killed 86 people as revelers gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice more than six years ago.

The truck driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was killed by police that night in 2016. The eight defendants, seven men and one woman, were charged with helping him ahead of what prosecutors determined was a terrorist attack.

But even prosecutors acknowledged that not all the defendants had a clear connection to terrorism or knew what Lahouaiej-Bouhlel planned.

Prosecutors requested sentences of two to 15 years in prison for the defendants, acknowledging in their final statement that “there will be frustrations” for the families of victims.

The three-month trial has been painful for survivors and victims’ families. Some were able to come to Paris for the proceedings, but many watched on a secured online site or at a special viewing center set up near the Nice beachfront.

Among the victims, 33 were foreign citizens and 15 were children. More than 2,400 people are civil parties to the trial.

In 4 minutes and 17 seconds, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel rammed his 19-ton truck at full speed into a crowd of families, tourists and others gathered for Bastille Day fireworks on the picturesque Promenade des Anglais, killing 86 and leaving 450 others injured.

While investigators found Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had vocalized support for the Islamic State group, they found no clear proof of his links to IS operatives. The group was active in Syria and Iraq at the time.

The truck massacre followed deadly attacks in Paris at the Bataclan theater and other sites in France and Belgium orchestrated by the extremist group.

Three of the defendants in the current trial were charged with terrorism-related offenses, while others faced weapons charges. One could face up to life in prison because of previous convictions.

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