The main court of last resort in Belgium has struck down a Belgian jihadist fighter’s appeal against his 28-year prison sentence for murdering a hostage in Syria.
The decision by Belgium’s Court of Cassation means that the decision by Antwerp’s Court of Appeal to uphold the sentence given to Hakim Elouassaki by a lower court is final.
Elouassaki, originally from the municipality of Vilvoorde, just outside Brussels, is the first returnee from Syria to be tried and sentenced to prison by a Belgian court.
He was brought to justice after his return to Belgium in 2013, after police intercepted a call he made to his girlfriend in which he bragged about how he executed a hostage in Syria, Reuters reports.
The hostage was shot in the head by Elouassaki —who attempted to film the execution— after his family managed to collect only around €30,000 out of the roughly €80,000 demanded as ransom.
In its decision to uphold the original sentence, the court of appeals had also stripped Elouassaki of his Belgian nationality and topped off his 28-year-sentence with a 15-year period of judicial oversight.
Elouassaki’s lawyers, in filing the last possible appeal against his sentence, had argued that their client had not had his mental state properly assessed.
The Court of Cassation found that previous court rulings had not been mistaken, rejecting the lawyer’s arguments on Tuesday.
The Brussels Times