Paris, France

French rapper MHD has been sentenced to hard time for his role in a brutal 2018 attack that left a young man dead.

According to The Guardian, the Afro-trap pioneer (real name Mohamed Sylla) was sentenced to 12 years behind bars on Saturday (September 23) for the gang-related killing of 23-year-old Loic K.

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Five of the co-defendants were sentenced to anywhere between 10 to 18 years in prison for their role in the killing. Three other men, who were also co-defendants in the case, were acquitted.

Prosecutors said that MHD used his Mercedes to ram into the victim’s car, then beat him up and stabbed him in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, France. They said it was part of an ongoing gang rivalry, though it wasn’t clear which gang or gangs were involved.

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Though MHD denied being at the scene of the killing, witnesses identified the Mercedes as his, and also identified him by the clothing he wore. What’s more, the Mercedes was found abandoned and burned out shortly after the killing, which led prosecutors to believe that a cover-up was at play.

MHD was initially arrested in 2019 for his role in the murder and had been in jail ever since. In March 2020, his lawyer’s appeal to get him out for compassionate reasons, due to a positive COVID-19 test result, was rejected.

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For his part, MHD has maintained his innocence, even after he was found guilty.

“From the beginning, I have maintained my innocence in this case, and I will continue to maintain my innocence,” he said to the court. He also said that the case against him was based on nothing more than rumors, and he intends to appeal the verdict.

The rapper, along with his co-defendants, have 10 days to appeal the conviction.

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Back in 2017, MHD told The Guardian that he was one of the few French rappers who didn’t look to American Hip Hop for inspiration. Instead, he said, he preferred to look to the music of his parents’ native Senegal and Guyana for his style.

“I was listening to French rappers who peppered their lyrics with English words because they were inspired by American rappers,” he said. “I did the opposite. I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I know Africa more.’ So I decided to use words from my own language, and that’s what led to my tracks like Ngatie Abedi or A Kele N’ta.”