An Algerian lawyer said Monday that she has evidence that the young man accused of killing seven people in attacks on French soldiers and a Jewish school claimed his innocence to police.In case you have only short-term memory, the AP article helpfully reminds us:
Mohamed Merah, 23, was killed after a more than 30-hour standoff with authorities, who have said that during negotiations he confessed to the killing spree in southwestern France and refused to surrender peacefully.
But Zahia Mokhtari, a lawyer for Merah's Algerian father, told BFM television on Monday that she had two identical videos of Merah that contradict the police narrative.
"In these videos, he says, 'I am innocent. Why are you killing me? I didn't do anything,'" she said.
Mokhtari would not detail how she got the videos, saying she would reveal more on their origin once she files a lawsuit in French courts against the elite police force, RAID, that killed Merah.
A police official with knowledge of the investigation cast doubt on her claims Monday, noting that Merah led police to evidence that proved he was the perpetrator.Tipster Samson notes that the lawyer, Zahia Mokhtari, resembled both Death in Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" as well as Igor in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein."
Prosecutors say Merah spoke at length with negotiators from the RAID force throughout the long standoff last month while he was holed up in a Toulouse apartment.
During these conversations, authorities say, Merah told them where to find a video he took of the crime spree. Al-Jazeera television has said it received a copy of the video, which shows the deaths of three paratroopers, three Jewish children and a rabbi from the killer's point of view.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of police rules, added that Merah had toyed with police during the standoff, initially agreeing to surrender but later vowing to "die with his weapons in his hands."
In related news, MEMRI translates a posting in a jihadi forum that claims that, contrary to news reports, Merah was a pious Muslim and dedicated jihadist:
In the post, Abu Al-Qa'qa' gives details about Merah's travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he allegedly heard from Merah himself. He strongly rejects the Western media's claims that Merah was a disturbed young man, describing him as a pious Muslim and praising his technological skills and his eagerness in training to be a mujahid. He adds that Merah was supposed to carry out a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, but that his plan was abandoned for reasons he is not at liberty to disclose.
According to Abu Al-Qa'qa', Muhammad Merah made two trips to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The first time, he traveled to Afghanistan through Egypt, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Tajikistan, but was arrested before he could join a jihad group. The second time he managed to obtain a visa to Pakistan, and while there, met with Taliban members who introduced him to Jund Al-Khilafa.