The older brother of a French jihadi who killed Jewish schoolchildren and soldiers in 2012 says he had no idea what his sibling was plotting.
Abdelkader Merah testified Friday for the first time in his trial for alleged complicity with his brother Mohammed’s three attacks in and near Toulouse.
Merah is the chief surviving suspect because Mohammed died in a shootout with police.
He said he was with his brother the day he stole the motor scooter used in the killings, but didn’t report the theft to police because he didn’t want to be a snitch.
“I’m not Mohammed Merah, I am Abdelkader Merah. There is a big difference,” he insisted to the court.
The brother of one of the seven victims said he was upset by what he perceived as Merah’s “cold expression” in the courtroom.
The attacks, which he carried out in the name of Al-Qaeda, were the first in a wave of jihadist assaults in France that resumed in 2015 with the shootings at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a massacre at a Paris concert hall.
The Islamic State terror group claimed the attack as the work of one of its “soldiers,” though a source close to the investigation said there was as yet no solid evidence linking the man to the group.
Abdelkader Merah, 35, is the first person to be tried over the spate of killings.
Reacting to his brother’s actions in 2012 Abdelkader Merah had declared himself “proud,” saying that “every Muslim would like to give his life to kill his enemy.”
He is accused of helping to facilitate his brother’s attacks, in particular by helping him steal the scooter used in three separate shootings.
He is being tried alongside 34-year-old Fettah Malki, accused of giving Mohamed Merah a bulletproof jacket, an Uzi submachine gun and ammunition.
Neither of the accused denies helping Merah obtain materials but claimed they were unaware of his intentions.
Abdelkader Merah faces a possible life sentence while Malki could get 20 years in prison.
Nicknamed “Bin Laden” in his neighborhood, Abdelkader Merah was known to intelligence services for his ties to radical Islamists in Toulouse.
Prosecutors claim he shared his brother’s ideology, and that the siblings were repeatedly in contact in the days before the killings.