Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Bangladesh: Textile workers' lives still at risk?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

José Bové, Candidate for the EU Commission presidency, Group of the Greens

Read more

WEB NEWS

NYPD's online campaign backfires

Read more

ENCORE!

Celebrating the Bard's birthday in Britain

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate of the East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

USA: Executions halted over drugs secrecy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

An overly optimistic plan?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

#NYPD Fail

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Soaring iPhone sales in China boost Apple earnings

Read more

  • Russia orders military drills as Ukraine moves on separatists

    Read more

  • Israel halts Middle East peace talks over Hamas deal

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills US doctors in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Platini: PSG in danger over Financial Fair Play rules

    Read more

  • Ségolène Royal denies banning cleavage at French ministry

    Read more

  • Palestinian unity deal stirs anger in Israel

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • US soldiers arrive in Poland as Ukraine crisis continues

    Read more

  • Fatah, Hamas agree to form Palestinian unity government

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

  • Colombian president reinstates firebrand Bogota mayor

    Read more

  • NYPD public relations campaign on Twitter goes awry

    Read more

  • In pictures: Violent protests erupt in Rio

    Read more

Europe

Brother of Toulouse gunman under investigation

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-26

French prosecutors filed preliminary murder and terrorism charges Sunday against Abdelkader Merah, brother of Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah. Under French law, preliminary charges allow a suspect to be kept in custody pending a formal indictment.

AP - A Frenchman suspected of helping his brother plot attacks against Jewish schoolchildren and paratroopers was handed preliminary murder and terrorism charges Sunday.

But Abdelkader Merah denied any role in the attacks. Investigators looking into France’s worst terror attacks in years believe Merah helped his brother Mohamed prepare the killings, and are investigating whether they were linked to an international network of extremists or worked on their own.

Abdelkader’s lawyer said he feels like “a scapegoat.”

“No one knew anything” about what Mohamed was plotting, lawyer Anne-Sophie Laguens told reporters in Paris. She dismissed reports that Abdelkader had praised his brother’s attacks. “He was never proud of those actions.”

Mohamed Merah, 23, claimed responsibility for killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers earlier this month. After a 32-hour standoff with police, he died Thursday in a hail of gunfire as he jumped out a window of his apartment in the southern city of Toulouse.

Anne-Sophie Laguens, lawyer for Abdelkader Merah

Since then, attention has focused on his older brother Abdelkader Merah, who was handed preliminary charges on Sunday of complicity to murder and theft, and involvement in a terrorist enterprise, prosecutors said. Detained last week, he will remain in custody pending further investigation.

Preliminary charges under French law mean there is strong reason to believe a crime was committed, but allow magistrates more time to investigate.

Authorities suspect Abdelkader had a role in acquiring his younger brother’s arsenal and financing his trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. Mohamed Merah claimed allegiance to al-Qaida and told police he traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan for training.

Abdelkader was questioned several years ago about alleged links to a network sending Toulouse-area youths to Iraq, but no action was brought against him at the time.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said the inquiry is also looking at anyone else who could have been involved in planning the attacks.

The brother’s girlfriend, Yamina Mesbah, was held, then released early Sunday without being charged. The Merah brothers’ mother was released Friday night.

The girlfriend denied any involvement in what happened and said she was shocked by the killings, her lawyer Guy Debuisson said, adding that Abdelkader Merah appeared to have led a double life.

“This woman was unaware of anything about her husband’s accessory, complementary or secret life,” the lawyer said. The couple married according to Muslim custom in 2006, but did not undergo the civil ceremony required in France for a marriage to be recognized.

Abdelkader Merah took five or six long trips to Egypt, ostensibly to study Arabic literature, and his girlfriend joined him on two or three, the lawyer said.

During questioning by police, the lawyer said, Mesbah learned that Merah had had other motivations for his trip to Egypt and “a life that led him toward an extremely intense ... fundamentalism.”

“The question to ask today is if Mohamed was the only one that was indoctrinated. Was it just him or are there others?” Debuisson asked.

The first paratrooper killed, Imad Ibn Ziaten, was buried Sunday in his hometown in Morocco on the Mediterranean coast. Townspeople held French and Moroccan flags as soldiers carried the coffin to the grave.

“It is incomprehensible, it is unimaginable. Terrorism doesn’t understand this. And above all we must not confuse Islam and fanaticism. They have nothing to do with one another,” his brother Hatim Ibn Ziaten said.

French State Secretary for Defense Marc Laffineur accompanied the family to Morocco, saying he wanted to show that “France is in mourning.” The other paratroopers were buried in France last week, and the Jewish children and rabbi were buried in Israel.

The killings have affected the race for French presidential elections in April and May, and raised concerns of tensions among France’s large Muslim and Jewish communities.

Thousands of people in Paris and Toulouse marched silently Sunday urging unity and tolerance of all religions and cultures after the killings. An enormous French tricolor flag borne by dozens of marchers waved above the Paris march as it snaked away from the Place de la Bastille, birthplace of the French Revolution.

Date created : 2012-03-25

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    French election rivals spar over national security

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Thousands march in Paris for racial harmony

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Toulouse gunman's brother jailed pending probe

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)