Photo: Screengrab, France 2 Television.
The mayor of Toulouse has called it “inappropriate” to bury the body of the French man who claimed to have killed seven people in a string of attacks earlier this month.The mayor’s rejection comes immediately after officials in Algeria refused to accept Mohammed Merah’s body.
Merah’s family had sought permission for a funeral in his father’s native Algerian village, Bezzaz, French newspaper Le Parisien reported. However, village officials turned down the request for security reasons, fearing that the grave could become either a shrine or a focus for attacks.
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The family then planned to bury Merah in France “within 24 hours,” an adviser on the funeral arrangements told Agence France Presse.
Merah was expected to be buried in the Muslim section of the Cornebarrieu cemetery near Toulouse, according to Abdallah Zekri of the Paris Grand Mosque. The grave would most likely be unmarked.
According to BFM TV, the burial was expected to take place at 5:00 p.m. this afternoon.
“The main thing now is to bury him and stop talking about him,” Zekri told reporters. He said that the funeral would be carried out “as discreetly and as quickly as possible, to allow us to close this chapter.”
However, those plans are now uncertain as the mayor of Toulouse, Pierre Cohen, has called burial in his town “inappropriate,” BBC reported.
“Following Algeria’s last-minute refusal to accept Mohamed Merah’s body, Mayor Pierre Cohen feels that his burial within the city of Toulouse is inappropriate,” his office said on Thursday.
“Therefore he has asked the regional prefect to delay the burial by 24 hours and is raising the matter with the government.”
Police are currently investigating whether Merah carried out the killing spree alone. Investigators have already charged his brother, Abdelkader, as an accomplice and are now hunting for a third man, according to the Parisien.
The paper reported that Abdelkader Merah told officers an accomplice helped him and his brother to steal the scooter Mohammed rode during the attacks. Police have reportedly found an abandoned car containing parts of the scooter, and have traced the vehicle’s owner to an address near Merah’s.
Merah’s father has hired an Algerian lawyer to sue the French special forces squad that killed him as he resisted arrest, prompting outrage from French politicians.
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