PARIS - The brother of the French gunman who killed seven people including young children in a shooting spree that shocked France has boasted that he is ‘proud’ of his sibling’s actions, police said Saturday.
Anti-terrorist police in Paris are interrogating killer Mohamed Merah’s older brother Abdelkader who was transferred from detention in the southwestern city of Toulouse on Saturday along with his girlfriend.
Mohamed Merah was labelled a ‘monster’ by French President Nicolas Sarkozy after he murdered three Jewish children, a trainee rabbi and three soldiers in three separate gun attacks this month in and near Toulouse. He was killed on Thursday in a hail of bullets as he tried to shoot his way out of a Toulouse apartment, bringing a 32-hour siege to a dramatic end but raising questions over police handling of the case.
Abdelkader Merah, 29, who was first taken into custody on Wednesday, admitted being present when the scooter used in the killings was stolen, even though he had said he knew nothing of his brother’s criminal intentions.
But he said he was ‘proud’ of Mohamed, whose murderous attacks triggered horror and revulsion across France and the world and led to the suspension of the campaign for country’s presidential election in April and May.
Police and prosecutors have described Adebelkader as more of a radical Islamist than his brother and that traces of what could be an explosive material had been found in his car.
Mohamed’s mother Zoulhika Aziri, who was released without charge on Friday, was “wracked with guilt and remorse” over her son’s actions, her lawyer Jean-Yves Gougnaud said. “Could she have prevented these things, this is what she is asking herself,” he said, adding that she was so fearful of reprisals she would not return home.
Sarkozy was due to hold an emergency meeting Saturday with Prime Minister Francois Fillon and several ministers to discuss security issues amid criticism of the way police handled the affair.
France also lifted its highest-level terror alert in the southwest, imposed after the gunman’s cold-blooded shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse on March 19.
A judicial source also said police had identified the gun used in the attacks as a Colt 45.