Brother of French School Killer Charged with Complicity

Posted March 25th, 2012 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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French prosecutors have filed preliminary charges against the older brother of an Islamist gunman who shot and killed seven people during a shooting rampage in southwestern France earlier this month.

Abdelkader Merah was charged Sunday with complicity to murder and involvement in terrorism.

He has denied helping his younger brother Mohamed kill three children and a rabbi, as well as three soldiers in earlier attacks. But police say he told them he is proud of what his brother did.

Abdelkader will remain in custody while a formal investigation is completed. Police already suspect Abdelkader Merah belonged to a network that smuggled Islamist militants into Iraq in 2007.

Abdelkader's wife, Yamina Merah, was briefly detained but later released without charge Sunday. Her lawyer says Abdelkader took five or six trips to Egypt for what his wife believed were Arabic courses.

“She learned details about his travels, she learned that apart from learning Arabic, he might have led a particular life in the practicing of his religion, a life that could have led him to a particular type of extreme Salafi practice, a fundamentalist practice.”

Mohamed Merah died Thursday in a gunbattle with police, who kept him holed up in his Toulouse apartment for more than 30 hours.

He shot down three children — ages four, five and seven — and a rabbi outside a Jewish school in Toulouse before driving away on a motorcycle last Monday.

He also shot three French soldiers near Toulouse in two earlier incidents. He claimed he belonged to al-Qaida and wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children in the Mideast and French involvement in Afghanistan.