Verdict due in Jewish museum terror trial

BRUSSELS (AFP) – A verdict was due yesterday in the trial of the accused Brussels Jewish museum killer, allegedly the first Syria militant veteran to stage a terror attack in Europe.

Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, faces a life sentence if convicted of the “terrorist murders” in the Belgian capital on May 24, 2014, following his return from Syria’s battlefields.

Nemmouche is accused of killing the four victims in cold blood in less than 90 seconds, but he denies the accusation and told the court on Tuesday he was “tricked”.

This referred to arguments made by defence lawyers that Nemmouche was not to blame for the cold-blooded slaughter, but that he was caught up in some kind of plot targetting the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

The argument involves Israeli couple Miriam and Emmanuel Riva, the first two of the four people killed in the attack.

A young Belgian employee, Alexandre Strens, and French volunteer Dominique Sabrier were also murdered.

The defence team has suggested that the Riva couple were intelligence agents murdered by an unknown man who had hunted them down.

The Riva family’s lawyers have furiously rejected the theory and said attempts to pass off the tourists as secret agents was “an absolute scandal”.

“Let’s stop the joking,” Prosecutor Yves Moreau told the court on Tuesday, describing the arguments presented by the defence as “complete nonsense” against compelling evidence.