French rapper MHD was sentenced Saturday to 12 years in jail for the murder in 2018 of a young man in Paris in what investigators say was a fight between rival gangs.
Five of his fellow defendants were also jailed over the killing, receiving jail terms of between 10 and 18 years. Three other men were acquitted.
As the verdict was handed down, several women in the public gallery burst into tears. MHD hugged one of them, while maintaining his composure.
MHD, whose real name is Mohamed Sylla, again insisted on his innocence during his final statement to the court before it retired to render the verdict after three weeks of proceedings.
“From the beginning, I have maintained my innocence in this case and I will continue to maintain my innocence,” he told the packed court.
The prosecutor had asked for an 18-year prison sentence for the rapper, acquittals for two of accused, and jail sentences of 13-20 years for the others.
They had all pleaded not guilty.
The 23-year-old victim, Loic K, was rammed by a black Mercedes and then beaten up and stabbed by around a dozen people in a gritty part of the capital’s 10th arrondissement.
Although the rapper denied having been at the scene, a local resident filmed the incident from his window, and the Mercedes was quickly identified as belonging to MHD.
Other witnesses identified him by his haircut or a Puma sweatshirt, for which he was a brand ambassador, according to investigative reports seen by AFP.
The car was found abandoned and burnt-out in a car park a day after the killing.