Published on the 2nd of October 2017 in The Guardian
The brother of a French Islamic extremist who killed seven people including three children and their teacher at a Jewish school has gone on trial accused of helping him carry out the murders.
Abdelkader Merah, 35, appeared at a special court in Paris accused of being an accomplice to murder linked to a terrorist group and helping to plan the deadly attacks in March 2012.
As the hearing opened under tight security on Monday, leading judge Franck Zientara, warned those present, including relatives of the victims: “The facts that we are going to have to consider are terrible.”
In three separate incidents, Mohamed Merah, 23, killed three soldiers, then shot three children and a teacher at point blank range at a Jewish school in Toulouse in a nine-day killing spree that traumatised France.
He was nicknamed the “scooter killer” after witnesses told police the gunman had turned up on a powerful scooter wearing a black motorbike jacket and a helmet with the visor lowered.
Merah, who filmed the shootings with a GoPro camer, was eventually traced and shot dead by French special forces after 32-hour televised sieg at his home in the city. Before he died he claimed to be acting on behalf of al-Qaida.
Abdelkader Merah, who has been held on remand since then, is accused of supporting and inciting his brother to carry out the attacks targeting soldiers and members of France’s Jewish community, and of giving “logistical support”.
At his side was a second accused, Fettah Malki, 34, who has admitted suppling Merah with an Uzi automatic rifle and a bullet-proof vest but denied knowing he was planning the deadly attacks.
The court heard Abdelkader Merah had attended Qu’ranic schools in Egypt and been known to France’s security services since 2006 as a member of a radical Islamist cell based in the Izards district of Toulouse. He had said in questioning he claimed he followed only the “laws of Islam and not those of the [French] Republic” and he was “proud of the way he (Mohamed) died as a fighter”, saying: “That is what the Qur’an teaches us.” He also claimed his brother had been killed by “the enemy”, the judge said.
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