France extradites suspect accomplice of Brussels Jewish museum killer

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A French court authorized the extradition to Belgium of a suspected accomplice of Mehdi Nemmouche, the alleged killer of four people at Brussels’ Jewish museum.

The Appeals Court of Aix-en-Provence near Marseille on Wednesday ruled to extradite 28-year-old Mounir Atallah based on a meeting he had with Nemmouche a month before the May 24 2014 shooting, the news site reported.

Atallah denied any complicity in the killings, although he admitted to meeting Nemmouche in Marseille.

“Yes, he called me and he asked: ‘Can I come and see you?’ I said yes,” Atallah, who met Nemmouche, a French national, in prison in 2010, told the judge during proceedings on his extradition. “I saw him, I offered him something to eat.” Nemmouche told Atallah he would call him later that night, Atallah said, but never did. The two men have not spoken since, according to Atallah.

Atallah will join another alleged accomplice of Nemmouche in Belgian custody, Nacer Bendrer, 26, who is alleged to have helped Nemmouche plan the attacks. A third individual suspected of complicity is wanted for questioning. All of them deny any involvement in the killings.

Two Israeli tourists, a French volunteer at the museum and a Belgian employee were killed. The museum reopened four months later under heavy security.

Nemmouche, who is believed to have fought with Islamists in Syria, was under surveillance by French and Belgian security services, according to prosecutors in both countries. He was arrested at France’s southern tip during a routine customs inspection several days after the shooting with a bag full of weapons similar to the ones used at the museum.

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