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A relative weeps during the funeral of French paratrooper Mohamed Legouad, killed this month by Mohamed Merah. Two other French troopers were murdered and four people at a Jewish school. (AP)

Al Jazeera Receives Video Of French Shootings, Won't Air Footage

Mar 27, 2012

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Korva Coleman

News network Al Jazeera says it received video footage of the murders of three French soldiers, a rabbi and three children in southern France. Zied Tarrouche, Al Jazeera's Paris bureau chief, says the video arrived at the Paris offices on a data stick, accompanied by a letter, which said the slayings were in the name of al-Qaida, according to CBS. The video was turned over to police.

Tarrouche says Al Jazeera is not "a sensationalist channel. We're not looking to broadcast images without weighing the risks and consequences," reports AP. He adds the video was forwarded to network headquarters in Qatar, where the decision was made against airing the video.

The murders were carried out by Mohamed Merah, who died after a 32-hour standoff with French police in Toulouse. He killed three soldiers in two separate attacks, and, in the most shocking assault last week, drove a motorbike onto the grounds of a Jewish school, where he shot and killed a rabbi and two of his pre-school children, and an eight-year-old girl.

After Merah's death, French authorities disclosed he'd been wearing a video camera and likely recorded himself killing his victims.

Police searched for any uploaded recordings but found no leads until the data stick arrived at Al Jazeera's office. French President Nicolas Sarkozy quickly urged the network not to air the recordings, "out of respect for the victims and for France," according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Al Jazeera agreed, and will refuse any request to share the video. The news agency says the footage didn't meet its ethics standards, because it didn't add any information that wasn't already in the public domain. Although he can be heard on the tape, the killer didn't record a statement nor is he shown on the video.

Bureau chief Tarrouche viewed the footage. He says the three attacks are accompanied by religious chants and readings, and images of Palestinian children. He says "the video is very disturbing, horrible", and that gunshots and cries of the victims can be heard. He noted whoever prepared it made sure it was "broadcast ready", according to the Wall Street Journal.

French authorities are looking for any possible accomplices who could have mailed the video. There are preliminary charges pending against Merah's brother, Abdelkader, of complicity, but there's no evidence so far that he participated in the shootings, notes CBS.

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