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French gunman's brother charged
Abdelkader Merah faces preliminary terrorism charges after he was quoted as being "proud" of attacks that killed eight.
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2012 22:56
Mohamed Merah, the admitted shooter, was killed by French security forces on March 22 [Reuters]

The brother of a gunman whose grisly murder spree shocked France has been charged with complicity in the attacks, but his lawyer said he should not be made a scapegoat.

Abdelkader Merah denied any involvement in the shooting-deaths of three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a trainee rabbi, which were claimed by his younger brother Mohammed Merah, 23.

Merah, who said he had links to Al-Qaeda, died on Thursday in an exchange of gunfire ater a prolonged stand-off with police at his Toulouse apartment.

His elder brother had reportedly said he was "proud" of Merah's actions - a claim his lawyer Anne Sophie Laguens sought to dispel after Abdelkader was charged on Sunday.

"He is not at all proud of the acts of his brother, like was said in the press," she told reporters in Paris.

"He strongly condemns them. He hopes he doesn't become a scapegoat." Her client denies all the charges against him, she added.

Abdelkader Merah, 29, has become a focus of the investigation into his brother's deadly rampage, the worst attacks in France in recent years.

Police radar

The elder brother had been on police radar since 2007, when he allegedly helped fighters get to Iraq.

Police said that he is considered a hardline Islamist who pushed Mohamed Merah in an increasingly radical direction.

The elder Merah and his girlfriend, Yamina Mesbah, were taken in for questioning on Wednesday.

Mesbah was released without charge on Sunday but Abdelkader Merah was taken from the French police's anti-terrorist headquarters in a Paris suburb to face an investigating judge in the city's central courts.

He was then indicted for complicity in the murders and conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism.

As police surrounded his Toulouse apartment last week, Mohamed Merah claimed responsibility for the three attacks.

In the first two shootings he targeted soldiers on the streets, then last week he attacked a Jewish school.

Police have said he filmed his three attacks with a camera strapped to his body and investigators said on Sunday he had planned to post footage online and use the Internet to claim responsibility for the carnage.

Source:
Agencies
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