PONTOISE, France, July 4 (UPI) -- Four young men were sentenced Sunday to three to 15 years in prison for attempted murder of police officers during 2007 riots in an impoverished Paris suburb.
Defense lawyers denounced the sentences as "extremely harsh" and claimed political considerations had influenced the cases, Radio France Internationale reported.
Prosecutors had called for even stiffer sentences.
Three of the four defendants were found to have fired buckshot from hunting rifles during two nights of battles with the police in Villiers-le-Bel, a largely Arab and black suburb north of Paris.
During the clashes, which began Nov. 26, 2007, 119 police officers were injured, four seriously. The violence erupted after two teenagers were killed in a motorcycle collision with a police car.
More than 70 cars and buildings were burned, including a library, two schools, a police station and several shops.
The violence drew comparisons to a series of riots that raged through poor French suburbs for three weeks in October and November 2005.
Two 29-year-old half-brothers, Adma and Abderhamane Karama -- described by prosecutors as ringleaders of the shootings -- received 12 and 15 years, respectively, after being convicted of attempted murder of police officers.
Another man, Ibrahima Sow, 26, was jailed for nine years on the same charge.
A fourth man, Samuel Lambalamba, was given three years after being found guilty of providing one of the weapons used.
"With sentences this harsh, one can feel political meddling in the justice system," RFI quoted defense attorney Patrick Arapian as saying after the verdict.
Few local people were willing to testify against the defendants, so most of the prosecution's case relied on anonymous written testimony, RFI said.
Defense attorneys said they did not know if they would appeal.
The prosecution welcomed the verdicts, as did the police union Alliance, which said the convictions would restore morale in the force.