Attack on the Jewish museum – the shooter’s presumed accomplice contests his repatriation to Belgium
Thursday, 18 December 2014
A Frenchman that the Belgian courts want to question as part of the inquest into the suspected Brussels Jewish museum killer, Mehdi Nemmouche, has contested his repatriation to Belgium. The suspected accomplice’s lawyer informed the press on Wednesday. The 27 year old appeared in front of the Paris appeal court during closed proceedings. The court will make a decision about the European repatriation request submitted by Belgium. There will be another session on the 14th of January.
According to the accomplice’s lawyer Julien Blot, he denies all involvement in the crimes committed by Nemmouche, who is suspected of being the shooter during the attack on the Brussels Jewish museum the 24th of May. The accomplice is known to the courts. Four people (two Israelis, a Frenchwoman and a Belgian) were killed.
The man was arrested in Marseille (south of France), and “denies all involvement in the incident”, says Counsel Julien Blot. Mr Blot denies his client could have helped Nemmouche procure guns.
During Tuesday’s operation, guns were found by investigators, said sources close to the case. “My client does not fit the profile of a jihadist”, the lawyer added.
According to those same sources, the man met Nemmouche during time spent in prison in the south of France. The Islamic radicalization of the two men was commented on by the prison administration, one of the sources said to the AFP.
“He was in prison with Nemmouche, like 500 other people at that time”, says Mr Blot, after the court of appeal session.
Investigators think Nemmouche went to Marseille before the carnage in Brussels, and want to know what he did and who he saw.
“They are looking really hard for an accomplice after insisting Nemmouche was a “lone wolf”, scoffs Mr Blot. Nemmouche was arrested in Marseille on the 30th of May while getting off a bus leaving Brussels. This was six days after the killings. This persistent offender, who arrived from Syria a few months earlier, had a revolver, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition on him.
He was handed over to the Belgian authorities at the end of July. Mehdi Nemmouche has never admitted to being behind the incident and his lawyers have never made any statements. He wants to save his version of events for the trial.
Nemmouche was in prison until the end of 2012, when he went to Belgium. He was taken in by the relative of someone he was in prison with. He then went to Syria, where investigators think he joined jihadist movements.