French shooter's brother charged as accomplice

Prosecutors charge Abdelkader Merah with complicity in 7 murders, terrorist conspiracy and theft, Paris prosecutor says.

French police at scene of Toulouse standoff 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier)
French police at scene of Toulouse standoff 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier)
Abdelkader Merah, the brother of the terrorist who perpetrated the Toulouse Jewish school shootings, was charged Sunday with complicity in seven murders and two attempted murders, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
The prosecutor also charged Merah with conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism and group theft.
“There are serious indications that [the suspect] was an accomplice in carrying out the terrorist crimes,” a French prosecutor was quoted as saying by Le Monde on Sunday evening.
Police arrested Merah on Tuesday night, along with his wife, as they surrounded his brother Mohamed’s apartment.
Merah was brought before a judge specializing in anti-terrorism cases on Sunday who ordered a formal investigation and moved the gunman’s brother to a prison for the duration of the inquiry.
A legal source told Reuters that four judges specializing in anti-terrorism would lead an inquiry into Mohamed Merah’s killing of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers in three separate incidents, and investigate his elder brother Abdelkader Merah for complicity.
“He has been placed under formal investigation in line with the prosecutor’s requirements,” the source said.
Mohamed Merah was shot dead by a police sniper on Thursday as he scrambled out of his apartment window while firing a pistol, after special- force commandos stormed his home in the southern French city of Toulouse following a morethan- 30-hour siege.
He earlier told police negotiators he had carried out the three shootings in Toulouse – the first against a single soldier, the second against three soldiers in which two were killed and the third at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in which a rabbi and three children were murdered – and the surrounding area to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and protest in Afghanistan. He said he regretted there were not more victims.
Since his death, the focus of the investigation has switched to Abdelkader, 29, who was already known to security services for helping smuggle jihadist militants into Iraq in 2007.
Police have found explosives in a car Abdelkader owned, according to the public prosecutor leading the case. He is suspected of playing a role in providing logistical support to his brother.
Abdelkader had been in detention since dawn on Wednesday as police questioned him in Toulouse and then Paris.
A police source disclosed that at a Saturday court hearing he had said he was “proud” of his late sibling’s killing spree and admitted to helping Mohamed steal the scooter used in all seven murders. He denied any knowledge of his brother’s murderous plans, however, the source added.
Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence head Bernard Squarcini told the daily Le Monde on Friday that there was no evidence Merah belonged to any radical Islamist network and that he appeared to have turned fanatic alone.
Gil Shefler contributed to this report.