Toulouse terrorist's father plans to sue France

Mohamed Merah’s father to take legal action over son's killing; Al Jazeera will not show shooting video.

March 27, 2012 15:37
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 father of Mohamed Merah, the French terrorist who shot dead three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers in three separate attacks in Toulouse this month, has said he will take legal action against France for his son’s death.

“I will ask the best lawyers and work for the rest of my life to pay their fees. France is such a powerful country it could have arrested him alive,” said Mohammed Benalel Merah, who lives in Algeria. “They could have gassed him and then arrested him, but they preferred to kill him.”

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Police commandos killed Mohamed Merah in a gun battle as he jumped from the window of his Toulouse apartment after a 32-hour siege last Thursday.

“If I was the father, I would remain quiet in shame,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who attended the funerals in Jerusalem of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler; his two sons, Arieh, five, and Gabriel, three; and Myriam Monsenego, eight.

“He is within his rights, but a word comes to my mind: indecency,” said Henri Gaiano, an adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “This man was a monster, a cold-blooded killer.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera television said on Tuesday it would not broadcast video footage of the shootings filmed by Merah, who used a camera strapped to his body as he carried out the attack from a scooter outside the Ozar Hatorah school on March 19.

The Qatar-based news network also said it was declining all requests from other media outlets for copies of the video.

French Jews expressed outrage on Tuesday that Al Jazeera had considered airing footage of the rampage.

Richard Prasquier, the head of CRIF, the country’s Jewish umbrella group, lashed out at the Qatari-based television network, saying it should not have announced it was thinking about broadcasting the images.

“Even the idea of playing with the possibility of sending these images is outrageous,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “We now quite feel one of the consequence [is that] the images would spark new atrocities.”

Prasquier said he learned the network was contemplating showing the footage during a meeting in Paris with relatives of those murdered at the Ozar Hatorah school.

“The families were shocked, we were all shocked,” he said.

The French government and the CSA broadcast regulator had urged television channels to refrain from running the video clips.

“In accordance with Al Jazeera’s Code of Ethics, given the video does not add any information that is not already in the public domain, its news channels will not be broadcasting any of its contents,” a spokesman for the network said.

The spokesman said Al Jazeera had passed the video footage on to the French police to help with its investigation.

Al Jazeera received a computer memory stick at its Paris bureau late on Monday that had been mailed anonymously from Toulouse last week, as police laid siege to Merah’s apartment.

The memory stick contained footage of the three shootings in chronological order, edited together with Islamic chants and readings from the Koran, Al Jazeera’s Paris bureau chief Zied Tarrouche told BFM TV.

Staff sent a copy of the film to the network’s headquarters in Doha for management to decide how to proceed.

Several hours later the news network said it had decided not to air the video.

Before Al Jazeera’s decision, Sarkozy had urged all television stations to refrain from broadcasting the video.

“I call on executives of all TV stations that may have the images in their possession not to broadcast them under any pretext out of respect for the victims and for France,” he said.

Valérie Hoffenberg, a Jewish politician running for the French parliament, said both Jewish and Muslim families had asked the network not to show the video.

“If [Al Jazeera] really considered showing it then it’s a disgrace, but what’s important is that they decided not to do it,” she said.

She credited her political patron Sarkozy for dissuading the Qatari media outlet from showing the images.

“You have to take into consideration that Al Jazeera in the past had no problem to show the execution of [US Jewish journalist] Daniel Pearl, but this time Sarkozy intervened,” Hoffenberg said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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