French citizen charged with murders at Jewish Museum committed torture in Syria
The French citizen charged with murdering four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels this May tortured people captured by Islamists in Syria. French journalist Nicolas Henin, who was one of those hostages released in April of this year, has made the claim in the magazine Le Point.
Henin says Mehdi Nemmouche was a dreaded extremist figure. "If he wasn't singing, he was torturing someone. He was part of a small group of French guys whose visits sparked horror among the roughly 50 Syrian prisoners held the cells near us," Henin told Le Point.
Henin's attorney says "all of the hostages" detained by Islamists in Syria agree that Nemmouche was one of their captors. Henin was a hostage from April 2013 to April 2014 in the country which is torn by combat between the army of dictator Bashar al-Assad and Islamists.
Henin spent part of his time in captivity with American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were recently executed by extremists from the Islamic State (IS) organization in retailiation for the US bombing of IS positions in Iraq. Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, was charged at the end of July by Belgian authorities with committing the murders at the Jewish Museum in Brussels as an act of terrorism.
During the attack on 24 May of this year, a Frenchwoman working as a volunteer in the museum and an Israeli couple who had come to Brussels as tourists lost their lives. The fourth victim of the lone gunman, who chose his victims randomly, was a 24-year-old Belgian also employed at the museum.
The attack sparked outrage in Belgium and abroad. Nemmouche has a record for robbery and has previously spent several years in prison; he was arrested several days later in Marseille, where he had traveled by bus from Brussels.
At the time of his arrest Nemmouche reportedly had in his possession a Kalashnikov assault rife and a revolver with ammunition of the same type that had been used during the attack in Brussels. A French court extradited him to Belgium.
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