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JewishJournal.com

November 1, 2012

Victims’ families demand inquiry into Toulouse murders

http://www.jewishjournal.com/world/article/victims_families_demand_inquiry_into_toulouse_murders

French President Francois Hollande at a Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, on Nov. 1. Photo by Bob Edme/Reuters

French President Francois Hollande at a Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, on Nov. 1. Photo by Bob Edme/Reuters

The families of the victims of Mohammed Merah have called for a parliamentary inquiry into failures that allowed him to murder four Jews and three French soldiers in the Toulouse area.

The families’ attorney, Patrick Klugman, said the parliament should set up a committee of inquiry in light of the findings of a recent report, which named “objective failures” in the authorities’ handling of Merah, a 23-year-old Muslim radical whom police killed in a gun fight after the murders.

The report by France’s police comptroller unit said the failures meant that French authorities miscalculated the threat posed by Merah.

Klugman made the statement Wednesday to France Inter, a radio broadcaster, on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to the school where on March 19 Merah gunned down his Jewish victims, a rabbi and three children. Netanyahu announced that he would visit the site with French President Francois Hollande.

At the moment, “there is no official instance represented in the investigation that can clear the barriers and evaluate all the conflicting accounts,” said Klugman, a former president of the Union of French Jewish Students and well-known campaigner against anti-Semitism.

Merah, who had made several trips to trouble spots in the Middle East and thousands of telephone calls all over the world, had been under some form of surveillance for approximately two years before he struck, but only in November 2011 did his file reach the French domestic intelligence agency DCRI.

Liberation, a French daily, revealed on Oct. 31 that two police officers from Toulouse, Christian Ballé-Andui and an agent identified only as "Hassan,” recommended that their superior consider arresting the already radicalized Merah as early as June 2011 for conspiring to commit a crime. Their warnings went unheeded.

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