French court jails jihadist for 30 years for overseeing group executions in Syria
A French court on Friday handed a 30-year prison sentence to a jihadist for crimes committed in Syria between 2013-15. Among his crimes was the overseeing the execution of two prisoners while a senior figure in the Islamic State extremist group.
Tyler Vilus, 30, who was found guilty on all charges, was also accused of belonging to a terrorist group, heading a group of Islamic State fighters and "aggravated murder".
Public prosecutor Guillaume Michelin earlier asked the court for a life sentence, with no possibility of parole for 22 years.
Michelin said Vilus "hasn't changed one bit" since his time with the Islamic State.
"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 IS had at the time carved out in Syria and Iraq.
"It is your responsibility to put a definite end to the bloodshed," he told the court.
But the presiding judge said he wanted to give him "a glimmer of hope" so that he could "evolve," even though he could have been sentenced to life on being convicted of all charges.
Investigators believed Vilus was part of the "Al-Muhajireen" (the immigrants) brigade, a squad that tortured and carried out summary executions, which he had denied.
However the court found that Vilus supervised the 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 published by the Islamic State's media department, a man alleged to be Vilus is two metres away as two kneeling and blindfolded prisoners -- one belonging to the Free Syrian Army rebel fighters and the other a member of 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 jihadists in Syria.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe