LONDON, UK – The father of Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah has hired an Algerian lawyer to sue French special police over his son’s death.
Merah, 23, killed seven people, including three children, in a series of execution-style gun attacks in France’s south-western cities of Toulouse and Montauban. He was shot dead during a 30-hour siege of his Toulouse apartment last week.
Algerian lawyer Zahia Mokhtari told the Agence France Presse that she had been hired by the dead man’s father, Mohamed Benalal Mera, to press charges against French police over his death.
“Mr Merah thinks that his son was murdered. He has asked us to file a complaint against the French security services,” she said.
In an interview with France 24 on Tuesday, Merah said police besieging his son’s home “could have used sleep-inducing gas and taken him like a baby.”
“Why were they so hasty?” he asked. “Why did they kill him? He could have been sentenced to many years in prison or even a life sentence. There is no death penalty in France.”
French politicians criticized Merah’s threat to sue the French state, with Foreign Minister Alain Juppé saying: “If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame.”
President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking at a campaign event on Wednesday, said it was “undignified and indecent” for the gunman’s father to speak, according to ABC News.
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Benalal Merah left his family when Mohamed was six years old. His other son, Abdelkader has been charged with complicity in murder and aiding in the preparation of terrorist acts.
Merah, born in France of Algerian descent, is said to have described himself as an Al Qaeda member, and reportedly told police during negotiations that he had carried out the murders to avenge Palestinian children and punish the French army for its foreign interventions.
According to the BBC, his half-brother in Algeria, Rachid Merah, claims that Mohamed had been manipulated by French intelligence services and did not have any links with Al Qaeda.
“I deny that formally and I have doubts that he had any link with Al Qaeda or Taliban or any terrorist organization in the world. And the fact that proves it is that France killed him before he could speak in a trial, while they could get him alive,” he said.
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