Following on from the presentation of the prosecution case and the arguments for the defence, Friday was the day when the trial of Mehdi Nemmouche in Brussels heard statements from the civil parties – representatives of the Jewish Museum, witnesses and relatives of the victims. Nemmouche is accused of carrying out a gun attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014 in which four people were shot dead. Three people – a museum worker and an Israeli couple on holiday – were killed immediately; another museum volunteer died later in hospital from gunshot wounds.
His mother was among those to give evidence to the court. Annie Adam, mother of Alexandre Strens, said the loss of the seventh of her eight children left her “like a mother whose wings have been clipped. I speak to Alexandre all the time. He was very close to me. He called me every day,” she said. She had only one request of the trial, she said: “Justice for Alexandre. I have confidence in the court.”
“What happened to us in 2014 was like a thunderbolt,” said Philippe Blondin, chair of the museum board. Until that day in May, he said, the museum had never suffered threats or even graffiti. He was asked by the president of the bench to describe Dominique Sabier, the other museum employee killed in the attack, he said, “Dominique was a refined woman, elegant, intelligent and cultivated. She knocked on the door one day several months previously, looking to rediscover her Jewishness.”
Defence counsel Sébastien Courtoy took up the questioning, and having suggested earlier that the attack was a false-flag assassination carried out by Mossad, launched an even more outlandish defence. “People who live in he neighbourhood of the Jewish museum have all stated there were never a lot of visitors,” he said. “If you want to commit a terrorist attack, you don’t go to an empty museum. There’s a synagogue not far from there.”
While the Great Synagogue of Europe is indeed a short distance away from the museum, the statement ignores the fact that it has been guarded by police and military for years since an attack in 1982, while the museum is open and defenceless.
The trial continues on Monday morning with testimony from investigators and magistrates.