Top French jihadist, wife sent to jail

A PARIS appeals court yesterday handed a 14-year jail term to a high-profile French jihadist convicted of terrorist offences linked to Syria.

The court upheld the sentence against Kevin Guiavarch handed down by a lower court but was more lenient in ruling that most of the term will not be served behind bars.

His wife Salma O. was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, which she will be able to serve at home wearing an electronic bracelet because of her “rehabilitation efforts”.

“Give me back the chance you gave me by allowing me to return to work and my job as a mother,” Salma 0. asked the court before it retired to deliberate.

The sentences handed down were deemed insufficient by the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT), which brought the appeal.

But the prosecutor-general acknowledged that Guiavarch was “neither a fanatic nor a lunatic”.

Guiavarch, a 30-year-old convert to Islam, was one of the UN’s most wanted jihadists and had been placed on a blacklist in 2014.

Suspected as being one of the major Islamic State group recruiters attracting young French people to join the jihadist cause in Syria and Iraq, Guiavarch rubbed shoulders with some of the perpetrators of the November 2015 Paris attacks while living in Raqa, IS’s de facto capital.

The former church choirboy, who was raised by a single mother in Brittany, claimed to be “reformed”.

He spent four years in Syria among jihadists, first with former al-Qaeda affiliate the Fateh al-Sham Front, and then IS.

He quit Syria in June 2016 and went to Turkey where he and his extended polygamous family were all arrested.

He was transferred to France the following year. – AFP, May 27, 202

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