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Paris court sentences brother of Toulouse attacker to 30 years

Benoit Peyrucq, AFP | A court sketch made on October 13, 2017 of Abdelkader Merah in a Paris court.

A Paris court of appeals on Thursday sentenced Abdelkader Merah to 30 years in jail for complicity in the murders committed by his brother, Mohamed Merah, who shot dead seven people in a terror attack in 2012.

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The verdict was received in silence in the courtroom, before sobs broke out among the victim's relatives in the public gallery.

Merah, the elder brother of “Toulouse gunman” Mohamed Merah, was sentenced in November 2017 to 20 years in jail when France’s highest criminal court found him guilty of criminal terrorist conspiracy in the 2012 murders -- including those of three children -- outside a Jewish school in the Toulouse area of southern France.

He was however found not guilty of complicity in the high profile terror attacks conducted by his younger brother.

State prosecutors appealed the 2017 verdict, which the victims’ families said did not go far enough to grant them justice.

During the second trial, which began on March 25, the prosecution and the plaintiffs attempted to demonstrate that Abdelkader Merah was not only a mentor to his younger brother, but also the brains behind the attacks and an accomplice to the crimes.

The defendant however denied any involvement in his brother’s 10-day killing spree, which shocked the nation and is widely seen as a precursor to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks.

A special court of appeals on Thursday found Abdelkader Merah guilty of having links to a terrorist group as well as complicity in his younger brother’s attacks.

“He has now been found guilty of complicity, which means his first prison sentence has gone all the way up to 30 years,” said FRANCE 24’s Claire Paccalin, reporting from the Paris court of appeals shortly after the verdict was delivered.

Mohamed Merah killed three soldiers in March 2012 before turning his sights on a Jewish school in Toulouse, where he gunned down a rabbi, two of the rabbi's children, aged three and five, and an eight-year-old girl.

The attack was the deadliest on Jews in France in three decades and marked the advent of a new threat from French-born radicals goaded by foreign terror groups to strike their homeland.

Mohamed Merah was killed by police after a 32-hour siege at his home, three days after the school assault.

The appeal court also reduced the sentence of Fettah Malki, a friend of the Merah brothers, from 14 to 10 years, found guilty of associating with known criminals, rather than the greater crime of terrorist conspiracy.

It was Malki who supplied Mohamed Merah with a machine gun and a bullet-proof vest was also convicted of a terrorist conspiracy.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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