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Gunman buried in Toulouse after row over body

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Merah was killed in a gunfight with police Thursday after a 32-hour standoff

Merah was killed in a gunfight with police Thursday after a 32-hour standoff

Merah was killed in a gunfight with police Thursday after a 32-hour standoff

THE gunman Mohamed Merah was buried in Toulouse last night after a row between Algeria and the south-western French city -- where he shot dead four people -- over who should accept his body.

The self-styled al-Qa'ida gunman had dual French-Algerian nationality. His father had asked for his body to be buried in the family village of Bezzaz in Algeria and his mother said she feared his grave would be "vandalised" in France.

But Algerian authorities refused to allow the 23-year-old to be sent to the North African country for burial. Merah killed a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse, and three soldiers in nearby locations.

Abdullah Zekri, an adviser to the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, with links to Algeria, said the mayor of Bezzaz had declined the request for "security reasons".

Emotions

Less than two hours before the funeral in the Muslim section of Toulouse's Cornebarrieu cemetery, Pierre Cohen, the socialist mayor of Toulouse, where emotions are running high, announced that burial within the city was "inappropriate".

He said he had asked the local prefect, the region's highest state representative, to "delay the burial by 24 hours". Mr Zekri responded that the mayor had "no right to refuse to bury him", threatening to file a legal complaint.

President Nicolas Sarkozy then tried to end the row, saying he should be buried in France. "He was French. Let him be buried and let's not have any arguments about it," he said.

The Far-Right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen claimed Mr Sarkozy was guilty of "undignified capitulation" to Algerian authorities. But, finally, Mr Zekri announced that "negotiations have taken place, we have come to an agreement" and the funeral took place at 6.30pm.

French police shot Merah dead last Thursday after a 32-hour siege of his apartment.

Mr Sarkozy yesterday denounced as "disgraceful and indecent" a threat by Merah's father to sue the French state for killing, rather than capturing, his son. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent