PARIS – Mehdi Nemmouche, the French national Islamist dubbed by local media “the other Merah” said that if he is to accept extradition to Belgium, he must be assured that an extradition to Israel will not follow, his lawyer, Apolin Pepiezep, told the press after the hearing on Thursday.
The Versailles Court of Appeals judges postponed their decision on the matter to June 26.
Nemmouche, 29, shot dead an Israeli couple and a French woman in the Brussels Jewish Museum on May 24, and seriously wounded a fourth victim.
When a judge on the panel asked Nemmouche whether he agrees to be extradited to Belgium, the suspect answered, as reported by French web news medias quoting judicial sources and journalists present: “I [will] keep opposing this extradition till Belgium [assures me] that there will be no transfer to a third country [Israel].”
Pepiezep said “that’s the only request we have,” and that his client, innocent until proven guilty, is not trying “to escape the justice system.”
Nemmouche was presented with a European Arrest Warrant during a previous hearing in Versailles, but refused to leave the city. His defense will find it more difficult to prevent the execution of the warrant due to the nature of the allegations made against Nemmouche.
If Nemmouche’s demand is rejected June 26, his lawyer may appeal to a higher court – a procedure that could take 40 days.
If justice continues to demand extradition, she will have 10 days to organize it, even if the European court of human rights is still examining the case.
Frederic Van Leeuw, Belgium’s federal prosecutor, said on June 1 that Nemmouche “was known before only by French authorities and not by Belgian ones.”
Albert Guigui, the chief Belgian rabbi, said on that time that “we should be careful now, Muhammad Merah in Toulouse has become an object of admiration.”