French shooter's brother investigated

March 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM
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PARIS, March 25 (UPI) -- French officials Sunday said they opened an investigation into the brother of the so-called scooter killer, who shot and killed seven people in France.

Abdelkader Merah appeared before a Paris judge Sunday on suspicion of "complicity in assassinations," "association with criminals with a view to preparing acts of terrorism" and theft, court documents said. He will remain in custody during the investigation.

Merah's brother, Mohamed Merah, who claimed to be an al-Qaida member, shot and killed seven people -- three soldiers, three Jewish children and a trainee rabbi -- in and around Toulouse between March 11 and 19 during three separate incidents, Radio France Internationale reported.

He was shot and killed by France's elite RAID police squad after a 32-hour standoff in his apartment Thursday.

Abdelkader said he was "proud" of his brother, Britain's The Guardian reported Sunday. A known jihadist supporter, Abdelkader allegedly told police he was present when the scooter used to get to and away from the shootings was stolen, but denied knowing about his brother's planned killing spree.

Meanwhile, a Toulouse lawyer acting for a woman identified only as Aicha said his client filed a complaint in June 2010 over disturbing behavior by Mohamed. Aicha said the man had beaten up her 19-year-old daughter, held her 15-year-old son against his will and forced him to watch violent videos, CNN reported.

Mohammed denied the claim, and the case was still open at the time of the shootings because of a backlog of cases at the Toulouse prosecutor's office, Aicha's attorney, Eric Mouton, said.

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