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French killer's brother is held

THE brother of the French serial killer claims he is being made a scapegoat for a gun rampage that left seven dead.

Abdelkader Merah, older brother of Mohamed Merah, has been accused of murder and terrorism.

Mohamed Merah (23) was shot dead by police in Toulouse, south west France, last week after a 32-hour stand-off outside his flat.

He was the only suspect for killing three French paratroopers, then three children and a teacher at a Jewish school.

Abdelkader Merah is also being investigated for links to terror groups. But his lawyer said he had no idea what his brother was planning.

"He was never proud of those actions," she said.

Racism probe as mum dies

AN Iraqi woman found beaten next to a threatening note saying "go back to your country" has died, and US police are investigating the possibility of a hate crime.

Mother-of-five Shaima Alawadi (32) was taken off life support in San Diego at the weekend.

Hanif Mohebi, the director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: "The family is in shock at the moment. They're still trying to deal with what happened."

"A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that," said police.

Tsunami fears after big quake

A major quake hit central Chile, shaking buildings and triggering a coastal evacuation on fears of a tsunami.

Residents in the capital, Santiago, fled their homes as the tremor rattled television sets, kitchen cabinets and tables.

One 74-year-old woman died of a heart attack due to the 7.1 magnitude quake.

Cheney 'didn't jump op queue'

DOCTORS have denied that former US Vice President Dick Cheney got special treatment when he was given a new heart that thousands of younger people also were in line to receive.

A spokesman for the Virginia hospital said it was "a very regimented and fair process, and heavily policed".

Cheney (71) received his new heart on Saturday after two years on a waiting list.