Brussels Jewish Museum killings: Mehdi Nemmouche trial begins

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Brussels Jewish Museum killings: Mehdi Nemmouche trial begins

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nemmouche has not allowed himself to be photographed in the years since his arrest

The trial of a man accused of killing four people at the Jewish Museum of Brussels has started in Belgium.

Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche is accused of shooting two tourists, a volunteer and a receptionist in the 2014 attack.

He allegedly fought in a jihadist group in Syria's war before returning to Europe and carrying out the anti-Semitic attack.

Nemmouche faces a life sentence if convicted, and denies the charges contained in the 200-page indictment.

Another Frenchman, Nacer Bendrer, is also on trial, accused of providing the weapons used in the shooting.

The lengthy indictment document contains details of the attack and the investigation which followed, and will be read out to jurors at the beginning of the trial in a Brussels criminal court.

What happened in the attack?

On 24 May 2014, a lone gunman entered the lobby of the Jewish Museum in Brussels. He opened fire on those inside and fled within a couple of minutes.

Three people died at the scene, while a fourth victim died two weeks later from their injuries.

They were Myriam and Emmanuel Riva from Israel, who were tourists visiting the city; Dominique Sabrier, from France, who was volunteering at the museum; and Alexandre Strens, a Brussels native who worked there.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tributes continued to pour in from the Jewish community for days after the shooting

Investigators say Nemmouche carried out the attack, reportedly while carrying a camera with him to record the shooting, which failed to operate.

He was arrested six days later in Marseille, in the south of France, as he got off a bus. A Paris prosecutor said he was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun believed to be have been used in the attack.

Who is Mehdi Nemmouche?

Nemmouche comes from the town of Roubaix in France, born into a family of Algerian origin.

He was previously known to French authorities, having served five years in prison for robbery. He is said to have met Mr Bendrer, who allegedly supplied the weapons in the Belgium attack, while in prison.

Both have been described as "radicalised" prisoners.

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Image copyright AFP
Image caption This file photo of Nemmouche was released in 2014 – and he has yet to be photographed at trial

He travelled to Syria in 2013 for one year, during which time it is alleged he fought for a jihadist group in the country's civil war.

Investigators say that while there, he met Najim Laachraoui, who was a suicide bomber in the Brussels airport attack of March 2016, which killed 32 people.

Four French people held hostage in Syria allege they were guarded by both Laachraoui and Mr Nemmouche during their captivity.

Links have also been drawn between Laachraoui's group and the one which carried out the Paris bombings of November 2015.

Nemmouche was extradited to Belgium to face charges connected to the museum shooting, but may also face trial in France over the allegations he was involved in the French prisoner's captivity.

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