The special assize court of Paris judging on appeal was once again more lenient than the prosecution by confirming Friday the judgment of first instance which condemned to 14 years of imprisonment, accompanied by a security period of two-thirds , the “repentant” Kevin Guiavarch, French pioneer of jihadism.
His wife Salma O., who appeared free, was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment, also as in the first instance, which she will be able to accomplish at home under an electronic bracelet because of her “reintegration efforts”. His sentence is accompanied by a socio-judicial follow-up measure of 5 years.
18 years initially required
These sentences, confirmed by the Court of Appeal, were deemed insufficient by the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat), which had appealed to review their duration.
During his requisitions on Friday, the Advocate General had requested eighteen years’ imprisonment with a two-thirds security period against Kevin Guiavarch (as during the trial at first instance) and 12 years’ imprisonment against his wife (against 14 years during the trial at first instance) with a five-year socio-judicial follow-up.
“The guilt of the defendants is no longer in debate today,” recalled the Advocate General. “Society needs time” to “trust” the defendants, he explained before conceding that the two defendants were not among the “elite soldiers” of the Islamic State organization and had no not participated in abuses attributed to the jihadist organization.
Salma O.’s efforts praised
Kevin Guiavarch is “neither a fanatic nor a fanatic”, recognized the Advocate General but, he insisted, “it is the sentence which marks the seriousness of the facts committed”. “We must not minimize” the role of Salma O., he also underlined while welcoming the “ties” that she was able to reconnect with her children (born during the couple’s stay in Syria) and her ” resumption of professional activity.
“Give me back the chance you gave me by allowing me to go back to work and my job as a mother,” Salma O. had asked the court before she retired to deliberate. In delivering its verdict, the Special Assize Court of Appeal hailed Salma O.’s efforts to reintegrate into society.
Kevin Guiavarch, 30, and Salma O., 41, were among the first French people to join Syria in early 2013, even before the official birth of the Islamic State organization (IS).
Having pledged allegiance to IS in June 2013, Kevin Guiavarch claimed to have been only a “stretcher bearer” or “nurse”, admitting to having participated only in checkpoint surveillance even though he posted photos on Facebook of him (and of Salma) in fatigues and arms, martyr’s headband on the forehead.
In the area, he had three young women come from France, sometimes with their children, to marry them. “Polygamy permitted by Islam” was one of the reasons for his commitment, he acknowledged. He had left Syria with his extended family and their six children in June 2016. Arrested in Turkey and then handed over to the French authorities, he has been imprisoned since 2017.
For the Advocate General, the departure from Syria was “not a realization of what IS” was but a matter of “opportunism” as the organization suffered setbacks on the ground.
In delivering her verdict, the president of the special assize court of appeal, Emmanuelle Bessone recalled that Kevin Guiavarch had “fought in the area but not all the time”. “The duration (of presence) in the area does not correspond to your commitment” alongside IS, she said.