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Toulouse Gunman's Father To Sue France Over Son's Death

The father of Mohamed Merah, the Islamist gunman who killed seven people in southern France before being killed in a police operation last week, has hired an Algerian lawyer to sue the French police over his son's death, French media reports said on Wednesday.

The reports quoted Algiers-based lawyer Zahia Mokhtari as saying that the gunman's father, Mohamed Benalal Merah, visited their office in Algiers to seek services to sue RAID, an elite French police unit, for not having followed procedures during the attempt to arrest Mohamed Merah and his murder.

"Mr. Merah thinks that his son was murdered. He has asked us to file a complaint against the French security services. We will begin the procedure once the burial is completed," the lawyer added.

Nevertheless, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe reacted angrily to the threat of legal challenge, saying: "If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame."

The shooter, Mohamed Merah, was cornered by French police at his apartment in Toulouse on March 21, and was subsequently killed in a shootout that ended a more than 30-hour siege. Merah's family is planning to bury him in Algeria.

Before his death, Mohamed Merah had admitted shooting dead seven people, including three soldiers, in three separate attacks. He also told police officers during the siege that he was affiliated to the al-Qaeda and claimed that the killings were to "avenge Palestinian children" as well as French "crimes" in Afghanistan.

The shooter's elder brother, Abdelkader Merah, has since been arrested and is said to have admitted during police interrogations that he had helped his brother to steal the scooter used in all the three attacks. Abdelkader is also reported to have told the police that he was proud of his brother's actions.

A french court has ordered Abdelkader Merah to remain behind bars while being investigated for possible complicity in his brother's crimes. Although Abdelkader's girlfriend and mother were also detained along with him, the two women were later released without charges after questioning at the domestic intelligence agency (DCRI) headquarters in Paris.

French police are currently trying to determine whether Mohamed Merah had acted alone while carrying out the killings. He was cornered at the Toulouse apartment after he shot dead three children and a rabbi at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse on March 19.

Prior to that incident, two soldiers were shot dead by an unidentified gunmen on a scooter near a military base in the south-western French city of Montauban on March 15. Another soldier was critically injured in the attack.

That incident occurred just days after a 30-year-old soldier was shot dead by an assailant on a scooter in a residential area of Toulouse. All the three soldiers killed in the two shooting incidents were of North African descent.

French police subsequently determined that the guns and scooter used in all three shootings were the same. The mysterious shootings had prompted the French government to raise the national terror alert to its highest level and to ban soldiers from wearing uniforms outside military bases.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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