Tue, 05 Dec 2023

French rapper MHD has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the murder of a young man in Paris in 2018 during a fight between rival gangs.

A court in Paris on Saturday found 29-year-old MHD, whose real name is Mohamed Sylla, guilty of being involved in the gang-related killing of Loik K.

On the night of 5 July, 2018, the victim, aged 23, was rammed by a black Mercedes and then beaten up and stabbed by around a dozen people on a low-income housing estate in the north of Paris.

MHD, a pioneer of afro-trap - a mix of hip-hop and African traditions - pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"From the beginning, I have maintained my innocence in this case and I will continue to maintain my innocence," he told the packed court, AFP news agency reported.

As Saturday's verdict was handed down, several women in the public gallery burst into tears. MHD hugged one of them, maintaining his composure.

The rapper had denied being at the scene, but 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 and sweatshirt, according to investigative reports seen by AFP.

The car was found abandoned and burned out in a car park a day after the killing.

"A judicial truth emerged despite the law of silence," said Juliette Chapelle, lawyer for the victim's family.

Five of his co-defendants were also jailed over the killing, receiving jail terms of between 10 and 18 years. Three other men were acquitted.

Those convicted - who all pleaded not guilty - have 10 days to appeal.

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MHD, a former pizza delivery driver, rose to fame after becoming a viral sensation in 2015.

He was charged with homicide in January 2019 and imprisoned. He was released after a year and a half in custody as investigations continued, and brought out a new album.

The football-mad performer, who was born in France to Guinean and Senegalese parents, is best known for "Afro Trap Part 3 (Champions League)", a song in praise of the Paris Saint-Germain football club.

He has a huge following on social media and has drawn admiration from global stars such as Drake and Madonna.

(with AFP)

Originally published on RFI

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