Journalists say alleged Brussels Jewish museum shooter tortured them in Syria
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Journalists say alleged Brussels Jewish museum shooter tortured them in Syria

At trial, French reporters identify Mehdi Nemmouche as their captor and tormentor when they were held by Islamic State in 2013-2014

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, Belgium — Two French journalists on Thursday told a terror trial in Brussels that Mehdi Nemmouche, the main defendant in the May 2014 Jewish museum murders, had imprisoned and tortured them in Syria.

The journalists, who were freed in April 2014, came to the Belgian capital to testify about the character of Nemmouche, a 33-year-old Frenchman, who faces a life sentence if convicted in the murder of four people during the anti-Semitic shooting attack on May 24, 2014.

“I have absolutely no doubt about the fact that Mehdi Nemmouche, who is present here, was my jailer and torturer in Syria under the name of Abu Omar,” former hostage Nicolas Henin told the trial.

His colleague Didier Francois also said he “had no doubt” Nemmouche had held him hostage, along with fellow Frenchmen Edouard Elias and Pierre Torres who were not present Thursday.

Jewish Museum’s lawyers Adrien Masset and Maxime Nardone look on on January 29, 2019, at the Brussels Justice Palace during the trial of Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, accused of shooting four people dead at a Jewish museum in Brussels in May 2014. (Didier LEBRUN / POOL / AFP)

Francois said Nemmouche hit him with “around 40 blows of a truncheon,” among other abuses, during the time the journalists were held by the Islamic State in the hospital turned prison.

He added that the violence and “tortures” meted out by Nemmouche mainly targeted Syrians and Iraqis also held there.

The four French journalists were kidnapped in June 2013 and held hostage by the IS in the northern city of Aleppo until April 2014.

The prosecution and a lawyer for Jewish groups asked the journalists to attend the trial to show what Nemmouche had done in Syria between January 2013 and February 2014.

Nemmouche’s lawyers charged that their testimony amounts to a “stunt” and a “trial within a trial” because their kidnapping is the subject of separate proceedings in France.

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