Brussels Jewish museum terror attack trial set to open

The trial of Mehdi Nemmouche begins in Brussels on January 10, 2019, accused of attacking a Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, killing four people. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Brussels Jewish museum terror attack trial set to open

  • Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, faces a life sentence if convicted of the killings in the Belgian capital on May 24, 2014, following his return from Syria’s battlefields
  • Heavy security will be deployed around the courthouse where the man accused of carrying out the 82-second shooting spree will be tried

BRUSSELS: The trial opens Thursday of a Frenchman accused of shooting four people dead at a Jewish museum in Brussels, allegedly the first Syria extremist veteran to stage a terror attack in Europe.
Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, faces a life sentence if convicted of the killings in the Belgian capital on May 24, 2014, following his return from Syria’s battlefields.
Both Nemmouche and Nacer Bendrer, a fellow Frenchman aged 30 who allegedly supplied the weapons, are to appear at 9 am (0800 GMT) in a Brussels criminal court.
Both have previously denied charges of “terrorist murder” for the anti-Semitic attack. Bendrer could also be jailed for life if convicted.
More than 100 witnesses are due to testify at the trial attended by the victims’ families and Jewish community leaders.
Heavy security will be deployed around the courthouse where the man accused of carrying out the 82-second shooting spree will be tried.
Firing a pistol and then an assault rifle, the gunman killed two Israeli tourists, a French volunteer and a Belgian receptionist at the Jewish Museum.
Nemmouche — born to a family of Algerian origin in the northern French town of Roubaix — was arrested six days after the attack in the southern French port city of Marseille after arriving on a bus from Brussels.
Investigators say he was carrying a handgun and an assault rifle used in the attack.
They say he fought with an extremist faction in Syria from 2013 to 2014, where he met Najim Laachraoui, a member of the gang which went on to carry out suicide bombings in Brussels that killed 32 people in March 2016.
That same Brussels cell is also alleged to have coordinated and sent extremists to carry out the Paris massacre of November 13, 2015, in which 130 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Both attacks were claimed by Daesh, whose activities in Syria and Iraq lured thousands of extremists from Europe.
Nemmouche and Bendrer, investigators say, met nearly a decade ago while in prison in southern France, where they were both described as “radicalized” inmates who tried to win others over.
Bendrer was arrested in Marseille seven months after the Jewish Museum attack and charged as Nemmouche’s accomplice.
Although he was jailed for five years in September by a French court for attempted extortion, he was transferred to Belgium for the trial.
Nemmouche is expected to face a separate trial in France for holding French journalists hostage in Syria.
The former hostages are expected to testify about Nemmouche’s character during the Brussels trial, despite the defense arguing that theirs is a separate case.
More than 300 Belgian and foreign journalists have registered to cover the museum attack trial which could last until the end of February.


Five suspects in court over Nairobi hotel attack

Updated 18 January 2019
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Five suspects in court over Nairobi hotel attack

  • A magistrate granted a request from the prosecution to detain the four men and one woman for 30 days while investigations continue
  • Gladys Kaari Justus is being investigated over the transfer of money while Guleid Abdihakim — who holds Canadian citizenship — is being probed over suspicious communication

NAIROBI: Five suspects, including a Canadian citizen, appeared in a Kenyan court Friday in connection with a militant attack on a Nairobi hotel complex that left 21 dead.
A magistrate granted a request from the prosecution to detain the four men and one woman for 30 days while investigations continue.
The suspects are accused of “possible involvement in the almost 20-hour siege of the DusitD2 hotel and office complex by a suicide bomber and four gunmen who were all killed by security forces,” a court document said.
“The investigations into this matter are complex and transnational and would therefore require sufficient time and resources to uncover the entire criminal syndicate,” a statement from Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajji said.
A total of 11 suspects were arrested after Tuesday’s attack, however investigations into the others were still ongoing.
Those who appeared in court include Joel Ng’ang’a Wainaina, a taxi driver who ferried the attackers around on several occasions, and Oliver Kanyango Muthee, a taxi driver who drove one of the assailants to the scene of the attack.
Gladys Kaari Justus is being investigated over the transfer of money while Guleid Abdihakim — who holds Canadian citizenship — is being probed over suspicious communication.
The other suspect Osman Ibrahim is alleged to have met with one of the attackers on January 8.
Two suspects yet to appear in court, Ali Salim Gichunge and Violet Kemunto Omwoyo possessed SIM cards that were in “constant communication” with numbers in Somalia, court documents revealed.
The attack was claimed by Somali militant group Al-Shabab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda which has repeatedly targeted Kenya over the presence of its troops in Somalia.
In 2013 an attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi left 67 dead, while in 2015 Shabab killed 148 people at a university in Garissa, eastern Kenya.