BRUSSELS, Belgium — A Frenchman on trial for murdering four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels on Tuesday said during his final court testimony that he had been “tricked.”
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was tricked,” said Mehdi Nemmouche, the alleged gunman in the May 24, 2014 shooting spree.
“My lawyer (Sebastien) Courtoy, explained to you the reasons why I have been silent from the beginning,” said the French suspect, who has rarely spoken during the eight-week trial.
“It’s not a disrespectful attitude on my part, I really didn’t want to offend,” he added.
“If I could change it, I would change everything,” he said, without further clarification.
His comments seemed to refer to arguments made by defense lawyers that Nemmouche, 33, was not to blame for the coldblooded slaughter, claiming he was caught up in some kind of plot targeting the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
The argument involves Israeli couple Miriam and Emmanuel Riva, the first two of the four people killed in cold blood in less than 90 seconds during the attack.
The defense team has previously suggested that the couple were intelligence agents murdered by an unknown man who had hunted them down.
“Let’s stop the joking,” prosecutor Yves Moreau told the court, describing the arguments presented by the defense as “complete nonsense” against compelling evidence.
The French citizen is a serial criminal who was radicalized in prison and allegedly fought for jihadist groups in Syria.
Nemmouche is accused with Nacer Bendrer, 30, who is suspected of supplying the weapons for the attack, and both face life imprisonment.
The jury is expected to give its verdict on Thursday.
“I have nothing to do with this story” which is “a nightmare for me,” Bendrer said on Tuesday.
“I have a life waiting for me, a wife waiting for me,” he said.
Prosecutors say the attack was the first carried out in Europe by a jihadist returning from fighting in Syria.
The Brussels killings came 18 months before the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks which left 130 dead.