Mehdi Nemmouche, the man accused of carrying out the attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in which four people died in May 2014, spoke briefly at his trial in Brussels yesterday, as we report elsewhere, and then took a vow of silence. But his legal counsel went on to lay out five main points they will use to argue his innocence. The defence are understood to be willing to argue for an acquittal, based on the following points:
There were no fingerprints or DNA prints from Nemmouche found on the museum door, despite the fact that security camera footage clearly shows the shooter opening the door.
No prints on the trigger of the handgun. It is known that the handgun carried by the shooter was used to kill three of the four victims in the attack, yet the trigger shows no DNA traces. Nemmouche was found in possession of the weapon when he was arrested in Marseilles a week after the attack, when he argued he had found the weapons.
The handgun was defective. Nemmouche told French police he kept the revolver with him on his journey from Brussels because he felt under threat. However, the defence will argue, if he were the shooter he would have known that the gun was defective. During the attack, the shooter changed weapons before shooting his fourth victim.
Nemmouche came quietly. When arrested in Marseilles, Nemmouche put up no resistance, despite being a highly-trained jihad fighter who was heavily armed at the time, suggesting he considered himself innocent.
The missing sunglasses. In the photo circulated by investigators and supposedly taken from the security footage, Nemmouche is not wearing sunglasses. However the video images themselves clearly show, the defence argues, that the shooter at no point took off his sunglasses. According to the defence, the still image was put out by investigators to frame Nemmouche.
The defence then went on to argue that rather than a terrorist attack carried out by Nemmouche, what happened was in fact an assassination carried out by Israeli intelligence service Mossad and targetting Emanuel and Miriam Riva, two tourists visiting from Israel. The other two victims, Dominique Sabrier and Alexandre Strens, were killed to cover up the assassination. The theory was described by the lawyer for Unia, the equal opportunities agency, as “a grotesque attempt to manipulate the case and the proof it contains”.