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Toulouse gunman’s father threatens to sue France

The father of Mohamed Mehra, the man who confessed to killing seven people in a 10-day killing spree in south-west France, told FRANCE 24 that he wants to take the French state to court for failing to capture his son alive.


The father of Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah on Tuesday said he planned to take the French state to court – for killing his son and failing to take him alive.

Benanel Merah told FRANCE 24 that police besieging his son’s Toulouse flat “could have used sleep-inducing gas and taken him like a baby.”

“Why were they so hasty?” he asked. “Why did they kill him? He could have been sentenced to many years in prison or even a life sentence. There is no death penalty in France.”

Earlier, Merah told reporters that he would “hire the biggest named lawyers and work for the rest of my life to pay their costs - I will sue France for having killed my son.”

Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old French man of Algerian origin, embarked on a 10-day killing spree that claimed the lives of three serving French soldiers – all of North African descent – and a rabbi, his two young children and another child outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.

After a two-day standoff with police besieging his house, he was shot dead on March 22 in an operation in which three officers were injured, one seriously.

Benalel Merah left his family when his son Mohamed was six years old. His other son Abdelkader is currently under investigation, suspected of aiding and abetting his brother’s crimes.

Government reacts

On Tuesday the French conservative political establishment erupted in indignation at Benanel Merah’s threat to sue the state.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Radio Classique that “if I was the father of a monster [like Merah] I would shut my mouth in shame.”

And President Nicolas Sarkozy’s chief advisor Henri Guaino told France Culture radio that while the man was “perfectly within his rights” to start legal proceedings, it would be “indecent”.

He added: “A little bit of decency right now would do everyone a lot of good. To try to blame the state is the height of indecency. This monster killed in cold blood. French society owes him absolutely nothing.”

Guaino, only too aware that France will elect its next president in April and May, also used the occasion to take a dig at the opposition.

He said the threat to sue came from the left-wing “ideology that the criminal is never fully responsible for his acts, that it’s always other people that are responsible.”

“Being a monster is not a symptom of the state of society,” he said. “A monster is a monster. There is no social explanation for such a hideous crime.”


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