French gunman's brother under investigation

Abdelkader Merah faces Paris judge as prosecutors seek to charge him as accomplice to brother in Toulouse killings.

    Mohammed Merah was killed in a gun battle on Tuesday after he confessed to the killings [Reuters]
    Mohammed Merah was killed in a gun battle on Tuesday after he confessed to the killings [Reuters]

    The brother of an al Qaeda-inspired killer who killed seven people in south-west France has appeared in front of a Paris judge as prosecutors seek to charge him with complicity to murder and planning terrorist attacks.

    Prosecutors allege Abdelkader Merah helped his brother Mohammed carry out killings in Toulouse and Montauban and was also planning terror attacks himself.

    Abdelkader Merah, 29, was arrested last Wednesday as police laid siege to his brother's Toulouse apartment following the killings of three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi, was placed under formal investigation after four days of preliminary interrogation.

    Mohammed Merah: From petty criminal to killer

    "Police inquiries have produced grave and matching pointers that suggest his participation as accomplice in crimes relating to a terrorist enterprise is plausible," the Paris public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

    Abdelkader Merah is being held in Paris after being moved to the French capital on Saturday. The inquiry will seek to establish whether Abdelkader Merah should stand trial.

    Abdelkader Merah denies the accusations but says he was there when his brother stole a scooter used in the attacks. He said during preliminary questioning he was proud of his 23-year-old sibling's killing spree, according to police supporters quoted by the AFP news agency.

    Police also found explosives in a car that he owned, according to the Paris prosecutor leading the case.

    Mohammed Merah, 23, was killed by a sniper last Thursday after a gun battle with police and a more than 30-hour siege during which he admitted the killings.

    The mother of the brothers, Zoulika Aziri, has said she needs an "explanation" to determine how she could have prevented her younger son from committing a series of shootings in southwestern France.

    Aziri was released without charge late on Friday, a judicial official said on Saturday after being questioned by police concerning her son's killing sprees.


    Meanwhile, several thousand people marched silently through Paris urging unity and tolerance of all religions and cultures after Merah's deadly shootings.

    An enormous French tricolor flag borne by dozens of marchers waved above the crowd as it snaked away from the Place de la Bastille, birthplace of the French Revolution.

    The mayor of Paris and other prominent French figures joined Sunday's march, organised by groups that fight racism and anti-Semitism.

    Meanwhile, several thousand people marched silently through Paris urging unity and tolerance of all religions and cultures after Merah's deadly shootings.

    An enormous French tricolor flag borne by dozens of marchers waved above the crowd as it snaked away from the Place de la Bastille, birthplace of the French Revolution.

    The mayor of Paris and other prominent French figures joined Sunday's march, organised by groups that fight racism and anti-Semitism.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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