Jewish museum attack victim's mother tells Belgian court of horror

Brussels (AFP) –


The mother of a victim of Belgium's Jewish museum attack told a terror trial on Friday that she was asked to decide whether to cut the life support for her son who had been shot in the head.

The alleged gunman Mehdi Nemmouche listened impassively as she and other relatives of the victims testified at a Brussels court about how the May 2014 attack tore their lives apart.

"I live like a mother whose wings were cut," Alexandre Strens' mother Annie Adam said.

Strens, the 26-year-old receptionist at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, died from a gunshot wound to the head two weeks after the anti-Semitic attack.

Friday was the first time since the trial opened more than a week ago that Nemmouche, a 33-year-old Frenchman, has confronted the anguish of the victims' families.

Adam told the court about the call she made to the police to learn if her son was a victim and the question the doctor asked when she arrived at the hospital.

"Do we turn off (his life support) with half-a-kilo of brains that fell out?"

Adam, aided by a microphone, recalled the tears that ran down her child's cheek after his operation.

"The professor who operated on him told me he could hear. I had to go to his left side because the bullet entered the right," she said.

"I told him: The little princess says hello," she said, referring to his niece. "We will find the one who did this to you."

Adam's lawyer Christian Dalne said earlier his client had above all feared "seeing the face" of his alleged murderer, who still causes her "anxiety attacks."

During the trial on Tuesday, Nemmouche denied charges he was the gunman who killed Strens as well as an Israeli couple and a French volunteer at the museum.

He then refused for the time being to answer questions in the case, accusing the authorities of unfairly striking names from a list of witnesses he felt could help in his defence.

Both Nemmouche and Nacer Bendrer, a fellow Frenchman who allegedly supplied him with the weapons, face life in prison if convicted of charges of terrorist murder.

Investigators said Nemmouche attacked the museum shortly after returning from Syria, where he had allegedly fought on behalf of jihadist groups.

Six days after the attack, Nemmouche was arrested in the southern French port city of Marseille. Bendrer was arrested in Marseille in December 2014.