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Network won't show France killings video, it says

By Saskya Vandoorne and Justine Redman, CNN
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Tue March 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Al Jazeera will not show or distribute the video it received, it says
  • Nicolas Sarkozy asks TV stations to show respect for the victims
  • Al Jazeera got 25 minutes of footage along with an unsigned note, it says
  • Mohammed Merah visited Israel and the West Bank, the Israeli government says

Paris (CNN) -- Al Jazeera will not broadcast video it received showing killings in France blamed on Mohammed Merah, it announced Tuesday, saying the material "does not meet our Code of Ethics."

The network is "also declining all requests for copies," it said on Twitter.

The decision came after Al Jazeera's Paris bureau chief said the network received video of the shootings in the mail.

The edited footage contains images of the killings of seven people, along with music, religious singing and readings from the Quran, bureau chief Zied Tarrouche said Tuesday.

"You can hear the gunshots at the time of the killings. ... You can hear the cries of the victims," he said on CNN affiliate BFM-TV.

Al Jazeera gave the material to the police, he said.

Before the network's decision not to broadcast it, French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked television stations not to show the footage "out of respect for the victims and out of respect for the republic."

"I ask the heads of all television channels that have these images in their possession not to distribute them under any circumstances," the French leader said.

Merah, the suspect in the shootings, was killed Thursday at the end of a 32-hour siege at the apartment in the city of Toulouse where he was holed up.

He was wanted for the killings of three French paratroopers, a rabbi and three children ages 4, 5, and 7. Two other people were seriously wounded in shootings blamed on him.

The video arrived by mail Monday on a USB stick along with an unsigned letter claiming al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks, Tarrouche told CNN.

The memory stick contained two clips with a total of 25 minutes of material, Tarrouche told CNN.

Al Jazeera kept a copy when police took the original, he said.

The video of the shootings on March 11, 15 and 19 was apparently recorded by a camera around the gunman's neck, Tarrouche said. Police said earlier they believed Merah had filmed the killings and that they had recovered video after he was killed.

Separately, the Israeli government confirmed Tuesday that Merah had visited Israel and the West Bank for three days in September 2010, but did not offer details about what he did there.

He crossed from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge, where he underwent procedural questioning by Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, and was allowed to enter, government spokesman Mark Regev said.

On Sunday, police charged Merah's brother, Abdelkader, with complicity in seven murders and two attempted murders and took him into custody, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Authorities also charged the brother with conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism and group theft, the prosecutor's office said.

Abdelkader Merah feels he is being made a scapegoat for the crimes his brother is accused of, his lawyer Anne-Sophie Laguens said.

He feels Mohammed Merah's acts were "reprehensible," Laguens said on BFM-TV, adding: "The impression we are getting today is that because we weren't able to put his brother on trial because he is no longer with us, then maybe we are coming down on the only person that is present."

Police also questioned Mohammed Merah's mother and his brother's girlfriend, but have released them without charge, the Paris prosecutor said.

Questions have been raised as to why Merah -- a petty criminal who was placed under surveillance by French authorities after visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan -- was not being more closely watched.

He claimed to have attended an al Qaeda training camp, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, and was on the U.S. no-fly list for that reason, a U.S. intelligence official said.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon told French radio station RTL that "there was no single element" that would have allowed the police to arrest Merah before the killings began.

He was tracked down by police 10 days after the first shooting on March 11.

In that attack, Imad Ibn Ziaten, a paratrooper of North African origin, arranged to meet a man in Toulouse who said he wanted to buy a scooter Ziaten had advertised online, the interior minister said. The victim said in the ad that he was in the military.

Four days later, two other soldiers were shot dead and another injured by a black-clad man wearing a motorcycle helmet in a shopping center in the city of Montauban, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Toulouse.

In the third attack, at the private Jewish school Ozar Hatorah on March 19, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet and driving a motor scooter pulled up and shot a teacher and three children -- two of them the teacher's young sons -- in the head. The other victim, the daughter of the school's director, was killed in front of her father.

Police said the same guns were used in all three attacks.

CNN's Bharati Naik, Kevin Flower, Louis Fraysse, Anna Prichard and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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