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France files charges against Toulouse gunman's brother

French prosecutors have filed preliminary murder and terrorism charges against the brother of a gunman who killed Jewish schoolchildren and paratroopers in attacks that stunned the country.

According to the Associated Press news agency Abdelkader Merah is suspected of complicity to murders and thefts and involvement in a terrorist enterprise.

Preliminary charges under French law mean there is strong reason to suspect a crime was committed but allow magistrates more time to investigate.

Toulouse killer's brother kept behind bars

The brother of the al Qaeda-inspired killer who died in a hail of French police bullets will be kept behind bars while he is investigated for possible complicity in the crimes, the public prosecutor's office says.

Abdelkader Merah, 29, was arrested last Wednesday as police laid siege to his brother Mohamed's Toulouse apartment following the killing of four soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi, was placed under formal investigation after four days of preliminary interrogation.

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President Sarkozy pays tribute to Toulouse police

President Sarkozy has paid tribute to his nation's police force following the Toulouse gunmen's death Credit: Reuters

President Nicolas Sarkozy has paid tribute to French police for their efforts in bringing a 30-hour stand-off with gunman, Mohamed Merah, to an end.

The police launched an assault late last Wednesday on an apartment where the gunman, suspected of killing seven people, was holed up. He was eventually killed in a gunbattle.

The president was speaking at a campaign rally in Rueil Malmaison, east of Paris.

He said: "Our country remained calm, our country was united, including all religions. I would like to thank, this evening, and in the most formal manner, the law enforcement agencies, who during these terrible times, showed their self-control, their courage and efficiency."

Neighbourhood where Toulouse gunmen lived comes to terms with past week

Neighbours and people who grew up with Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah have called for the media not to demonise him as they remember him as just another kid on the block.

But his killing of seven people and his brother's arrest has stirred existing religious tensions in France.

What we're asking today is, honestly, to stop demonising Mohamed. That's it. He's dead. What's the use? He's not going to come back and tell you: 'No I am not like that' or, 'Yes I am like that.' Stop. That's it.

What we also want to say is that we share the grief with all those on this earth who have lost children or people who are dear to them.

We understand them because we're going through the same pain."

– Neighbour and friend of Mohamed Merah

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Toulouse gunman's mother to be released

The mother of the man accused of killing seven people in a gun rampage in France is set to be released, while his brother has been transferred in police custody to Paris, an official has said.

The official says Mohamed Merah's mother will be released in the next few hours.

Abdelkader Merah has been transferred to police anti-terrorist headquarters, along with his girlfriend.

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