Brussels Jewish museum suspect denies murder charges


(JTA) — The lawyer representing Mehdi Nemmouche, the Frenchman suspected of killing four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels, denied that his client committed the murders.

Nemmouche, 29, says he stole the assault rifle and handgun that customs officers found in his possession on May 30 in Marseille, Nemmouche’s lawyer, Apolin Pepiezep, said Wednesday during an interview with the French broadcaster i>TELE.

The lawyer said Nemmouche stole the weapons from a parked car in Brussels and planned to sell them in Marseille. He added that his client should not be extradited to Belgium to face murder charges because “nothing connects him to the murders.”

On May 24, a man entered the museum with an assault rifle that appeared to be an AK-47 and a handgun. He killed four people, two Israeli tourists and two museum staffers.

French police said on June 1 that they believed Nemmouche committed the May 24 murders at the Jewish Museum of Belgium and then travelled to Marseille in southern France aboard a bus. He was arrested at a routine customs inspection of the passengers on the bus, which left from Amsterdam via Brussels to France.

Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said Sunday that a video found after Nemmouche’s arrest contains his voice claiming responsibility for the attack and murders. Nemmouche had tried to film the attack, according to Van Leeuw, but the camera failed.

Nemmouche, who lived in the French city of Roubaix on the border with Belgium, had spent several years in a French jail for armed robbery. French authorities believe he left for Syria via Belgium to fight with jihadists in 2012, before returning to Europe.

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