Mixed Feelings After Mixed Verdict in French Jewish School Killings

PARIS (AP) -
Eric Dupond-Moretti, lawyer of Abdelkader Merah speaks to reporters at the courthouse in Paris, Thursday. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Families and lawyers have mixed feelings after a French court convicted a French-Algerian man of terrorism ties but found him not guilty of complicity in his brother’s deadly attacks on a Jewish school and French paratroopers.

In a tense verdict Thursday, Abdelkader Merah was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Paris court Thursday after an emotional trial over his younger brother Mohammed’s killings of three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the Toulouse region in 2012. That marked the first of what became a wave of attacks in France by homegrown Islamic extremists.

The trial was the only opportunity for families of victims to seek public justice because Mohammed Merah was killed by police.

The mother of one of the soldiers killed, Latifa Ibn Ziaten, cried at the verdict and expressed regret that the court didn’t go “all the way.” She said she hopes Abdelkader Merah “thinks of the families” of victims every night.

Lawyers for the victims welcomed the court’s decision to hand Abdelkader the maximum sentence for criminal association with a terrorist enterprise as a partial victory.

Defense lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti welcomed the court’s decision to acquit him of complicity as proof of the independence of the justice system.

Abdelkader Merah, now 35, was accused of radicalizing his younger brother but has always denied helping Mohammed prepare the deadly rampage.