Elusive Justice

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A French court convicted four men of conspiracy to commit terrorism in the murder of an 85-year-old Catholic priest in Normandy in 2016, the latest trial related to attacks connected to the Islamic State terrorist group, the Associated Press reported.

The defendants received sentences between eight years and life in prison in the attack on Father Jacques Hamel. The individuals were not directly responsible for the attack but were accused of helping or encouraging the attackers.

In 2016, two assailants, Abdel Malik Petitjean and Adel Kermiche, stabbed the priest in his church and took hostages before being shot and killed by police as they tried to flee.

Only three defendants appeared at the trial, the other was convicted in absentia.

The absent defendant, Rachid Kassim, received a life sentence: The Frenchman was known as a notorious Islamic State recruiter and is suspected of encouraging the attack on the priest via social media. His whereabouts remain unknown and he is believed to have been killed in a drone strike in 2017 in Iraq.

The trial was one of many stemming from a series of Islamic State-related assaults in France over the past decade. The deadliest of these attacks is still in the courts: The Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015, which left 130 people dead.

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