Ex-jihadist jailed for murders in Jewish museum in Brussels

A French citizen told a jury “life goes on” as he was jailed for killing four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels.

Mehdi Nemmouche was sentenced to life over the murders of tourist couple Myriam and Emmanuel Riva, and two museum employees, Dominique Sabrier and Alexandre Strens in May 2014.

Nemmouche staged the attack shortly after coming back from Syria, where he had been fighting with Islamist factions in the civil war.

It was the first attack by a Western European who had fought with the factions, and raised concerns about jihadists returning to their home countries.

He simply said “life goes on” as the verdict was delivered.

Nacer Bendrer, another French citizen being tried as Nemmouche’s accomplice, said: “I am ashamed to be here… I am ashamed to have crossed paths with this guy. He is not a man, he is a monster.”

Bendrer was found guilty of supplying the weapons and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The families of the victims and survivors voiced their relief after the trial, which went on for two months, and was dogged by controversy over what they called conspiracy theories put forward by Nemmouche’s lawyers.

The court was shown footage of a man wearing a baseball cap entering the Jewish Museum armed with a revolver. He shot a man and a woman in the back of the head at point-blank range.

The man then walked down the corridor and fired into offices, killing two other victims, before pulling out an assault rifle and spraying the area.

The attack was over within 82 seconds and the man strode away without looking back.

Yves Moreau, prosecuting, asked the jury to hand down a tough sentence, and said: “He will get out of jail and he’ll go on another crusade and start killing again.”

Speaking to the defendant, Mr Moreau said: “The cherry on the cake: you aren’t even capable of taking responsibility for your acts.”

Nemmouche had been largely impassive during the trial and had refused to speak.

After the conviction, Daniel Strens, brother of victim Alexandre Strens said: “I think the verdict is clear; it was exhaustive. Technical details have allowed to support his culpability.

“They tried to deny it, to create a smokescreen, to create a truth based on convenient coincidences. Today they have to face the striking and shattering reality. Justice is also brought by truth.”

Investigators said the 33-year-old had been radicalised in jail. He is also facing charges in France for his apparent role holding journalists hostage in Syria.

Two French journalists told a court they remembered Nemmouche as deeply antisemitic, sadistic and full of hatred.

Nemmouche’s defence lawyers argued the prosecution had doctored CCTV of the attack and that their client was framed.

He will not appeal the sentence.

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