The sole surviving member of the armed group that carried out the 2015 Paris attacks apologised to all victims at the end of his trial testimony on Friday.
“I wish to express my condolences and offer an apology to all the victims,” Salah Abdeslam told the court in a sometimes tearful statement.
“I know that hatred remains… I ask you today that you hate me with moderation,” he said.
“I ask you to forgive me,” he added.
The apology to victims and request for forgiveness marked a dramatic end to three days of testimony by Abdeslam, who in the initial stages of the trial had maintained a rigid silence apart from occasional outbursts against the court.
Abdeslam, the main trial suspect after his accomplices were killed during or in the wake of the attacks, said in his testimony that he had planned to blow himself up in a crowded bar but stopped after seeing the people whom he was about to kill.
One of his defence lawyers, Olivia Ronen, during cross examination of her client, asked if he regretted not carrying out his plan until the end.
“I don’t regret it. I didn’t kill these people and I didn’t die,” he replied.
“I would like to say today that this story of November 13 was written with the blood of the victims. It is their story, and I was part of it,” he added.
“They are linked to me and I am linked to them,” he said in a quivering voice, before issuing his apology.
Addressing the wounded and those who lost loved ones: “I know this [the apology] is not going to heal you.
“But if it can do you any good, if I could do any good for one of the victims, then for me it’s a victory.”
The attackers killed 130 people in suicide bombings and shootings at the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall, and on street terraces of bars and restaurants on November 13, 2015.
It was France’s worst peacetime atrocity.