Brussels court convicts Frenchman of murder in Jewish museum attack

A police officer secures the Palace of Justice during the trial of Mehdi Nemmouche and Nacer Bendrer - accused of killing four people in a shooting at Brussels’ Jewish Museum in 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 07 March 2019
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Brussels court convicts Frenchman of murder in Jewish museum attack

  • Mehdi Nemmouche convicted of terrorist murder for the shooting deaths of four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014
  • The shooting attack was the first to underscore the threat posed by militants returning to their home countries in Europe after fighting in Syria’s war

BRUSSELS: French citizen Mehdi Nemmouche was convicted of "terrorist murder" by a Belgian court on Thursday for shooting dead four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels after returning from Syria in 2014, federal prosecutors said.
Sentencing after the two-month-long jury trial over what is seen as the first attack by an extremist militant with European citizenship after returning from Syria will be announced at a later date.
Nemmouche, 33, admitted to carrying a Kalashnikov, a revolver and ammunition similar to that used in the museum shooting. But his lawyer said his client did not pull the trigger in the attack that killed an Israeli couple and two museum staff, Belgian public broacaster RTBF said.
Nemmouche told the court he was "tricked" while his lawyer said video footage of the shooting was faked and his client was framed by hit men sent to kill two agents of Israel's Mossad - assertions that outraged the victims' families and survivors.
European Jewish Congress chief Moshe Kantor on Thursday condemned as a disgrace "the use of reprehensible tactics and conspiracy theories (of) the defence lawyers."
 


Belgium arrests man suspected of plotting attack against US embassy

Updated 1 min 3 sec ago
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Belgium arrests man suspected of plotting attack against US embassy

  • The suspect identified only as M.G. appeared Monday morning before an investigating judge who ordered him held
  • Extremists have staged a number of attacks in Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO

BRUSSELS: Belgian counter-terror police have arrested a man suspected of plotting an attack against the US embassy in Brussels, federal prosecutors said Monday.
The police on Saturday arrested the man following “converging signs raising fears of an attack against the US embassy,” the prosecutor’s office said.
“The suspect has been detained for an alleged attempted attack within a terrorist context and preparation of a terrorist offense,” it said in a statement.
The suspect identified only as M.G. appeared Monday morning before an investigating judge who ordered him held, it added.
The suspect denies any involvement in the alleged plot.
A source close to the investigation told AFP the suspect is a Belgian man of around 40 years who had “raised suspicion because of his behavior.”
He had been seen “scouting” the embassy area before he was arrested, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The source declined to say whether the suspect fit the profile of an extremist.
The US embassy was not immediately available for comment.
Extremists have staged a number of attacks in Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.
The worst was on March 22, 2016, when suicide bombers killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others at Brussels airport and a metro station near EU buildings.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks.
Since 2016, several other attacks, some of them also claimed by Daesh, have targeted Belgian police or soldiers.
The last “terrorist attack” occurred in the eastern city of Liege on May 29 last year when Benjamin Herman shot dead two women police officers and a student.
He was subsequently shot dead by the police.
Since the end of January 2018, the terror alert level in Belgium has been set at two, which means an attack is considered unlikely, the same as it was before January 2015.
A level three alert — indicating an attack is possible and likely — was set later in January 2015 after police smashed an extremist cell in the eastern city of Verviers.
The Belgian police raid occurred a week after attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and Jewish supermarket in Paris.
The level four alert — which means a serious and imminent threat of attack — has been put in place twice but for limited duration.
It was imposed for the first time for a week in the wake of the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris which claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.
It was then raised from three to four in the days after the March 2016 attacks.
Police say they believe the same cell was behind both the French and Belgium attacks.