Brussels Jewish Museum victims were shot with ‘surgical’ precision, court hears
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Brussels Jewish Museum victims were shot with ‘surgical’ precision, court hears

At trial of terrorist in 2014 attack, first responders and nurses testify that those killed ‘appear to have been executed’

A court sketch made on January 10, 2019, shows Mehdi Nemmouche, accused of the terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, during his trial at the Brussels Justice Palace. (Benoit Peyrucq/AFP)
A court sketch made on January 10, 2019, shows Mehdi Nemmouche, accused of the terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, during his trial at the Brussels Justice Palace. (Benoit Peyrucq/AFP)

BRUSSELS — Victims of the Jewish museum attack in Brussels were shot with “surgical” precision, first responders said Monday at the trial of French national Mehdi Nemmouche.

Nemmouche, 33, the alleged jihadist gunman, faces life in prison if convicted of the charges of murdering four people during the anti-Semitic attack on May 24, 2014.

Paramedics who attended the scene told the Brussels criminal court they first found a man and woman dead in the museum’s entrance hall. Each had been shot in the head at point blank range.

Inside the museum reception, they then found a third victim who was “unconscious and shaking violently” before sedating him in order to provide first aid.

Weapons as pieces of evidence are displayed at the trial at the courthouse in Brussels on January 18, 2019. Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche is accused of shooting four people dead in the 2014 attack at a Jewish museum in Brussels. Alleged accomplice Nacer Bendrer is suspected of having supplied Nemmouche the attack weapons. (Dirk WAEM / various sources / AFP)

The victim was a young man with “a bullet in the middle of the head,” first responder Benoit Claessens said, pointing to the space between both eyes.

“This precision was surgical,” Claessens told the court, as he struggled to maintain his composure.

Charlyne Lietard, a nurse in the same rescue team, echoed his comments.

“These are people who appear to have been executed, given the precision of the shots,” Lietard told the court.

Both emergency workers described entering a “shocking” scene, where it was stressful to work because they did not know whether the gunman was still present.

It was only later that witnesses said the gunman had fled, disappearing into the crowd outside, carrying the two dark bags he had arrived with.

Pieces of evidence, including clothes and a camera, are displayed at a court in Brussels on January 18, 2019, at the trial of Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, accused of shooting four people dead at a Jewish museum in Brussels on May 24, 2014. (Dirk WAEM / various sources / AFP)

The two bodies in the entrance hall were identified as Emmanuel Riva and his wife Miriam. The third victim was Alexandre Strens, 26, who died in hospital two weeks later.

Mira and Emmanuel Riva, an Israeli couple killed in the terror attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum on May 24, 2014. (Courtesy)

Emergency workers later found a fourth body, that of French museum volunteer Dominique Sabrier, 60.

Nacer Bendrer, a 30-year-old fellow Frenchman who allegedly supplied Nemmouche with the weapons, also faces life in prison if convicted of the same charge of terrorist murder.

Investigators said Nemmouche attacked the museum shortly after returning from Syria, where he had allegedly fought on behalf of jihadist groups.

Six days after the attack, Nemmouche was arrested in the southern French port city of Marseille. Bendrer was arrested in Marseille in December 2014.

The trial is due to last until the end of February or early March. Both defendants were present in court on Monday, as they have been since the trial started on January 10.

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