Network Decides Against Airing France Attack Video

Posted March 27th, 2012 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The Al Jazeera television network says it has decided not to air graphic video of three shooting sprees in southern France that left seven people dead.

The Qatar-based network said Tuesday that the video did not meet its “code of ethics.”

Earlier Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged television networks not to show graphic images of the attacks carried out by al-Qaida-inspired gunman Mohamed Merah “out of respect for the victims.”

Later, the French leader said he had ordered intelligence agents to speed up the expulsion of extremists and block the entry of suspected extremists into France.

The shootings took place earlier this month in the southwestern Toulouse region.

Authorities believe Merah filmed his shooting rampages, which killed three children, three French soldiers and a rabbi. He died in a gunbattle with police, after they kept him holed up inside his Toulouse apartment for more than 30 hours.

Al Jazeera's Paris bureau chief, Zied Tarrouche, said the network received the images of the shootings on a USB memory key. Tarrouche said religious music and recitations of Quranic verses had been laid under the edited video.

It is unclear whether other networks received the images. However, Al Jazeera said it had declined requests from other media outlets seeking copies of the video.

French authorities said Tuesday that an unidentified accomplice may have been involved in mailing the videos to the pan-Arab network.

On Sunday, French prosecutors filed preliminary charges of complicity to murder and involvement in terrorism against Merah's older brother, Abdelkader Merah. He denied playing a role in helping his younger brother carry out the attacks. However, police say he told them he was proud of his brother's actions.

Authorities say Mohamed Merah claimed to have ties to al-Qaida and said he carried out the attacks to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children in the Middle East and French involvement in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Merah's father says he may seek legal action against France for his son's death. Mohamed Benalel Merah told news organizations Tuesday that French authorities could have taken his son into custody alive.