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BELGIum - FRANCE

Frenchman linked to Brussels anti-Semitic attacker jailed for extortion

People pay tribute to the victims at the Brussels Jewish museum after the killings
People pay tribute to the victims at the Brussels Jewish museum after the killings AFP PHOTO/BELGA / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

A court in the southern French city of Marseille has jailed Nacer Bendrer to five years in jail after finding him guilty of extortion. Bendrer has been charged in Belgium with complicity with Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people when he opened fire on a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2015.

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Bendrer, 30, was found guilty of attempted extortion in a case based on accusations by the brother of a local drug dealer.

The man said that two men, one armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, came to his home one night in April demanding a sack of weapons and 100,000 euros.

He looked at them through the spyhole in his front door, he said, and recognised one of them as Bendrer because the hood that was supposed to conceal his face slipped.

At the time Bendrer was under house arrest under France's post-Paris attacks state of emergency, having been released from detention by a Belgian court, and had to report to a police station three times a day.

He denied the accusations in court, pointing out that they were based on the word of one accuser.

Bendrer is to face trial in Belgium over the Brussels killings alongside fellow Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, either later this year or early next year.

Nemmouche, who had previously fought with Islamist groups in Syria, was arrested in Marseille six days after the museum attack.

Bendrer was formally charged as an accomplice in the attack in February 2015 in Brussels, two months after his arrest near Marseille in possession of various weapons, includig a Kalashnikov like the one used at the Jewish museum.

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