Lawyers for Jihadi Terrorist on Trial for Brussels Jewish Museum Shooting Push ‘Mossad’ Conspiracy Theory in Court
First responders who attended to victims of the May 2014 terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels gave harrowing evidence in court on Monday of the bloodstained scene they encountered, as lawyers for the Islamist accused of the atrocity held firm to their main line of defense — the conspiracy theory that the operation was carried out by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.
As the trial of accused terrorist Mehdi Nemmouche entered its second week in a criminal court in the Belgian capital, emergency service workers recalled the fear they experienced as they tended to victims, not knowing whether the shooter was still in the area. Charlyne Lietard, a nurse, told the court the four victims were “people who appeared to have been executed, given the precision of the shots.” Three of the victims — Emmanuel and Miriam Riva, an Israeli couple who were visiting the museum, and Dominique Sabrier, a museum volunteer — had died by the time the first-responders reached them. The fourth victim — Alexandre Strens, who worked at the museum as a receptionist — passed away in a hospital two weeks later.
Belgian media reports of Monday’s hearing all noted that Nemmouche sat impassively throughout the testimonies, as did his alleged co-conspirator, Nacer Bendrer, who is suspected of supplying the weapons used in the attack. At one point, Nemmouche asked for, and was granted, a copy of a Power Point presentation shown to the court by police investigators at the crime scene. However, when court judge Laurence Massart asked him a question, Nemmouche — a French jihadi who traveled to Syria in 2013 where he joined ISIS — refused to answer, speaking only to his lawyers.
Nemmouche’s trial is expected to conclude by the beginning of March. If found guilty, he faces a sentence of life imprisonment. But when his lawyers present the case for the defense, they will argue that Nemmouche was not the killer, and that the four victims were murdered as part of “a targeted execution by Mossad agents.”
Given the overwhelming material evidence against Nemmouche that has already been gathered — his fingerprints on the handgun and his DNA on the Kalashnikov rifle used in the attack, as well as several witnesses confirming that the loud, guttural voice caught on the video of the attack was his — observers of the trial have remarked on his apt choice of Brussels lawyer Sébastien Courtoy to head his legal team.
Among Courtoy’s other clients are Laurent Louis, a Belgian Holocaust denier and former member of the country’s parliament, and Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a French antisemitic propagandist who describes himself as a comedian, and whose favored theme is mocking the Holocaust. In 2012, Dieudonné presented Courtoy and his fellow lawyer in Nemmouche trial, Henri Laquay, with the “Golden Quenelle” Award — named in honor of the inverted Nazi salute adopted by Dieudonné’s followers in France and Belgium.
A 2015 profile of Courtoy called him “the Vergès of the Islamists” — a reference to the late French lawyer Jacques Vergès, whose client list famously included Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, left-wing terrorist Ilich Ramirez (“Carlos the Jackal”) Sanchez and Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson.
The same profile quoted a Brussels lawyer’s description of Courtoy as an “antisemitic Don Quixote” who saw Jewish conspiracies lurking behind every corner. In 2006, after his former schoolteacher criticized him for defending Islamists in court, Courtoy demanded police protection from what he insisted was a Mossad plot to silence him.