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France: Public outcry after TV station airs final recordings of Toulouse shooter

French TV channel TF1 has provoked controversy with its decision to air audio of Mohamed Merah's final conversations with police shortly before he was killed resisting arrest.

Mohammed merah1Enlarge
This screengrab from France 2 television shows an image of Mohammed Merah. The video was reportedly filmed by Merah's friends a year and a half ago in the suburbs of Toulouse. (Screengrab)

A TV channel's decision to air recordings of Mohamed Merah's conversations with police hours before he died has provoked public outcry in France. 

Merah was shot dead by special forces after hours of resisting arrest for the murders of seven people in and around Toulouse in March.

The Interior Ministry has ordered an investigation into how the tapes found their way to TF1, which broadcast several minutes of excerpts last night as part of a news show.

"I'm very determined – I didn't do all this just to end up getting caught," Merah told the police officers attempting to arrest him, according to TF1's transcription.

"You should know that you've got a man in front of you who's not afraid to die. I love death like you love life."

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The families of Merah's victims are seeking an injunction to prevent any further airings, their lawyers informed the network.

The lawyers had been told that only one copy of the audio existed, according to Le Figaro, and that it was kept under strict security at the Palais de Justice in Paris.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned TF1's decision to broadcast the recordings. The police's internal investigation unit has been instructed to find out how they were leaked, the ministry told Agence France Presse.

TF1, which refuses to reveal how it obtained the tapes, defended its decision. The recordings contain important information about the police operation to arrest Merah, the station's head of news, Catherine Nayl, told AFP – notably that, "right until the end, negotiators tried to capture Mohamed Merah, and to capture him alive."

Merah's father plans to sue French police over his son's death, which he alleges was murder. Other family members have claimed that Merah was killed in order to prevent him revealing information that could embarrass the French intelligence services at a trial.

Merah's father claims to have a video of his son's final hours filmed by Merah himself; his lawyer is due to present it to French authorities this week, Le Figaro reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/120709/tf1-recordings-mohamed-merah-toulouse