Brother of Toulouse killer to face special court
A special court will try the brother of Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people in a murderous spree in the French city of Toulouse in 2012, for complicity in the attacks, judicial sources said Wednesday.
Merah, a self-described Al-Qaeda sympathiser who had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, shot dead three Jewish schoolchildren, a teacher and three soldiers in Toulouse and nearby Montauban in a nine-day killing spree in March 2012.
His brother Abdelkader, who had been under closer scrutiny by intelligence services than Mohamed, claimed he was unaware of the plans for the attacks, which prompted stepped-up surveillance of suspected Islamic extremists.
Three anti-terrorist judges also ruled that another alleged accomplice, Fettah Malki, should appear before the panel of expert judges.
Malki, who has also been charged with complicity in the murders, has admitted supplying Merah with an Uzi submachine gun and a bulletproof vest.
Judicial sources said Malki too has denied any advance knowledge of Merah's plans.
Charges were dropped against a third man, Mohamed Mounir Meskine, who was suspected of helping the Merah brothers steal the scooter used in the killing spree.
It was not immediately known when the trial would start.
Merah's rampage began on March 11, 2012, when he killed a soldier in Toulouse. Four days later he gunned down two paratroopers in nearby Montauban, and on March 19 he killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
He was killed at his home in a standoff with armed police on March 22.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that France could be harbouring "dozens of Merahs".
France, which is home to Europe's largest Jewish community, has seen an upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks.
In January last year, an Islamist gunman shot dead four Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris two days after the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.
The attacks have prompted a sustained rise in Jewish emigration from France to Israel.
© 2016 AFP