Toulouse victims’ families angry at Merah broadcast

Airing of final hours of man who killed 7 in France sparks outrage at “lack of consideration and warning” ahead of broadcast.

July 10, 2012 04:56
3 minute read.
Alleged photo of Mohamed Merah from French TV.

French Toulouse shooter Mohamed Merah 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/France 2 Television)


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The French TV channel TF1 stirred controversy after it broadcast recordings on Sunday of the negotiations between terrorist Mohammed Merah and police during the 32-hour siege of the young man’s apartment in March.

Merah remained holed up in his home until police stormed the building, killing the murderer of seven people, among them a rabbi and three young Jewish children in the city of Toulouse, in southern France.

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The release of the recordings of the final hours of Merah’s life angered many on Monday as the lawyers of the killer’s victims announced their intention to prevent the dissemination of the material on the Internet.

The material was originally broadcast on the Sept a Huit (from seven to eight) news program. In the audio extracts, the voice of Merah can be heard calmly speaking with a police negotiator. The young man, who was recorded talking at 3 a.m., related in detail each one of his murders, and his determination to continue his killings. He is also heard speaking about his links with his “brothers” from al-Qaida in Pakistan, and explaining how he misled the French intelligence agency DCRI.

“I am a determined person.

I didn’t do all this to let you catch me. Here we’re negotiating, after, apart from negotiations, don’t forget I have the weapons in hand,” Merah is heard saying. “I know what’s going on to happen.

I know how you operate in order to intervene... I know that you might kill me, it’s a risk I take. So here it is, you must know that in front of you there is a man who is not afraid of death. Death, I love it, as you love life.”

According to the TV report, Merah said that he was “sent by al-Qaida” after “training” in Pakistan.

In regard to his future plans, he left no doubt: “I would shoot dead anybody in police stations [and] in the street.”

More recordings extracts were published late Monday.

In those, Merah said: “My purpose in these attacks was to prioritize killing troops, since these troops are serving in Afghanistan, with all their allies.” He claimed that he didn’t “premeditate” the killings at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school.

According to Merah, he lost the opportunity to kill another soldier, then drove on his scooter and “I just passed by [the school] like that. When I woke up in the morning it was not my objective.”

The broadcast of the recordings shocked the families of the victims.

One of their lawyers, Samia Maktouf, said “the victims are outraged to learn about the content of the negotiations on TV... at this rate, the videos of the killings will be soon on the web.”

Another lawyer, Ariel Goldmann, complained against the “lack of consideration and warning” ahead of the broadcast.

Two investigations were opened on Monday against the TV show, one of them by the Ministry of Justice in Paris and the second one by the National Police.

Reacting to the investigations, Catherine Nayl, the managing director of news and information at TF1, said that the recordings “contained very important information about the way in which the police negotiated until the end in order to bring Merah to surrender. [It] proves that the negotiators tried to arrest Merah alive.”

“We do understand the shock and the violence for the victims families who had to hear the man who, in absolute cold blood and determination, assassinated one of their family members,” she added, before concluding, “[but] we are journalists, and our job is to inform.”

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