NEWS

French gunman's brother transferred for questioning

03/24/2012 09:39 EDT | Updated 05/24/2012 05:12 EDT

The brother of a gunman who killed seven people in southwestern France before dying in a 32-hour standoff with police is facing more questioning from the country's intelligence agency, according to French media.

Abdelkader Merah, 29, and his girlfriend were picked up last Tuesday and taken to the police station in Toulouse, but media reports say they were transferred Saturday to a Paris detention centre at the France's intelligence service, known as DCRI.

Abdelkader was previously detained for questioning, along with his mother, a day before Mohamed Merah's attempts to elude capture ended at his apartment building in Toulouse. The 23-year-old suspect leapt from a window, firing a Colt .45 pistol. A police sniper killed him with a shot to the head after the gunman fired about 30 rounds at officers.

Police found explosives in a car Abdelkader owned on Wednesday, according to the public prosecutor leading the case, Francois Molins. He has alleged that Abdelkader was already known to security services for having helped smuggle jihadist militants into Iraq in 2007.

Meanwhile, a judicial official says Abdelkader's mother has been released without charge. The official says Zoulika Aziri was released late Friday. He spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because the information wasn't cleared for public release.

However, on Friday, an official close to the investigation said there is no evidence that al-Qaeda commissioned Mohamed Merah to go on his killing spree or that he had any contact with organized groups.

Prosecutors say he carried out three attacks this month, killing Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three French paratroopers with close-range shots to the head.

Merah claimed to negotiators that he went on his rampage to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children as well as to protest the French army's involvement in Afghanistan and a French law banning Islamic face veils.

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