Terror suspect jailed for 20 years over attempted murder of police

Salah Abdeslam was found guilty of attempted murder over shots fired at police in March 2016 (AP) Credit: AP/Press Association Images

Paris terror attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam and an accomplice have been guilty of attempted murder over shots fired at police they sought to avoid arrest in a Brussels suburb.

The court in Brussels handed both Abdeslam and Sofiane Ayari the maximum 20-year sentence.

It said the “terror character” was clearly established in the March 2016 shooting, four months after the Paris attacks that killed 130 in November 2015.

Court president Luc Hennart said the two chose not to attend the reading of the verdict and sentencing. Abdeslam attended the opening day of the trial in February but has refused to co-operate since. He is being held in a prison in northern France.

It is unclear when he will face trial over the Paris attacks.

The conclusion of the case at Brussels’ ornate palace of justice took place amid tight security set up by the armed forces and police.

Abdeslam was close to being arrested in a hideout when he and Ayari fled, while another man sprayed gunfire at police and was killed. Three officers were wounded.

Three days later, Abdeslam was captured in Brussels. Four days after that, extremists struck in the Belgian capital, killing 32 people in bomb attacks at the airport and on the subway system.