Defense sums up case in Belgium Jewish museum slaying
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Defense sums up case in Belgium Jewish museum slaying

Lawyer for accused gunman Mehdi Nemmouche says desperate investigators tampered with evidence to implicate his client

Lawyers Aurelia Psalti, left, Christian Dalne, center, and Guillaume Lys attend the trial of Mehdi Nemmouche at the Justice Palace in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)
Lawyers Aurelia Psalti, left, Christian Dalne, center, and Guillaume Lys attend the trial of Mehdi Nemmouche at the Justice Palace in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The defense lawyer for a man charged with terror offenses over the killing of four people at a Jewish museum in Belgium is summing up his case, a week before the verdict is to be handed down.

Lawyer Sebastien Courtoy on Thursday set about establishing doubt in the 12 jurors’ minds over the credibility of the evidence and witness testimony against his client, Mehdi Nemmouche.

He claims that investigators desperate to secure a guilty verdict even tampered with some of the evidence.

Nemmouche, a suspected French jihadist who spent time in Syria, is charged with “terrorist murder” over the 2014 slaying of an Israeli couple and two employees at the Jewish museum in Brussels.

Courtoy says the killing was the work of Israeli or Lebanese agents, not his client.

The jury is expected to give its verdict on March 7 before deliberating over what sentence Nemmouche should serve if found guilty.

In summing up the case on Tuesday, prosecutor Bernard Michel said Nemmouche was “not simply radicalized but ultra-radicalized”.

“If attacking a museum with a combat weapon is not violent and savage then nothing will ever be violent and savage. We are looking at one of the most serious possible crimes,” Michel said.

“For the killer, for Mehdi Nemmouche, the identity of the victims mattered little. The aim was simply that there should be victims. Everything was premeditated.”

Prosecutors accuse Nemmouche of carrying out the first attack in Europe by a jihadist returning from fighting in Syria. The Brussels killings came 18 months before the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks that left 130 dead.

Aside from denying his guilt over the course of a seven-week trial, which began on January 10, Nemmouche has said almost nothing in the dock since the first day.

Nemmouche is being tried along with fellow Frenchman Nacer Bendrer, a petty criminal from Marseilles who is accused of supplying the weapons for the attack.

Michel urged the jury to find Bendrer guilty of being Nemmouche’s accomplice.

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