The older brother of a French extremist has gone on trial accused of helping his sibling prepare a 2012 terror rampage in Toulouse. Over nine days, Mohammed Merah killed several Jewish children and two Muslim soldiers.
The older Merah brother appeared before a special court in Paris for the first day of his terror trial on Monday. The 35-year-old Abdelkader Merah is charged with "complicity to murders" committed by his jihadist brother Mohammed Merah .
Abdelkader has denied helping his brother commit a series of terror attacks in Toulouse in 2012.
During his nine-day rampage, Mohammed Merah killed three Jewish children and a teacher working in a Jewish school. He later killed three soldiers, two of whom were Muslim. The 23-year-old was tracked down by police, with special forces laying a siege to his apartment, and ultimately killed after a 32-hour standoff.
Brothers meet after attack
His older brother Abdelkader later told the investigators he was "proud" of Mohammed for dying as a fighter, and that "every Muslim would like to give his life to kill his enemy."
Abdelkader has been on the radar of intelligence services since 2006 for his proximity to radical Islamist cells. The investigative judges claim he acted as his brother's mentor and radicalized him. Mohammed Merah is believed to have trained with al Qaeda-linked extremists in Pakistan.
Authorities also accuse Abdelkader of helping his brother steal the scooter he used for the attacks, as well as helping him select targets and paying for the bulletproof jacket his brother reportedly wore. Another defendant on trial, Fettah Malki, stands accused of providing the jacket, the Uzi submachine gun and the ammunition.
Neither of them deny giving the younger Merah the items, but both say they were not aware of his plans. Abdelkader also admits to meeting Mohammed for dinner just hours after he killed two soldiers.
New age of terrorism
Despite expressing pride over his brother, Abdelkader has also condemned the killings and denied being the source of his radicalization. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
The trial that started on Monday is set to last for at least one month, with the verdict expected in November.
The 2012 attacks were the first Islamist terror strikes on French soil since 1995. In the following years, France faced numerous homegrown terrorists and Islamist-motivated attacks, the latest being the deadly stabbing in Marseille on Sunday.
dj/rt (AP, AFP)