French police begin investigating gunman's brother

PARIS — The brother of an Islamist extremist behind a deadly shooting rampage in France celebrated his martyr-like death and may have helped him, police and a lawyer said Saturday.

Counterterrorism authorities are expected to decide early today whether to file charges against 29-year-old Abdelkader Merah, who has been under questioning for four days over killings in southern France.

Mohamed Merah died in a hail of gunfire Thursday after a standoff with police as he claimed responsibility for attacks that killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers. Merah claimed allegiance to al-Qaida.

The Merahs' mother was in police custody for three days before she was released late Friday. Investigators are focused now on brother Abdelkader Merah, who was flown to Paris for questioning Saturday along with his girlfriend, Yamina Mesbah.

A police spokesman said detectives have already gathered evidence to suggest that Abdelkader Merah had "furnished means (and) worked as an accomplice."

He had already come under police radar. He was questioned several years ago about a network sending youths to Iraq, but no action was brought against him.

French police begin investigating gunman's brother 03/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 24, 2012 11:39pm]

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