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TERRORISM

‘My name is Mohamed Merah and my life is hell’

Several Frenchmen who bear the same name as gunman Mohamed Merah have been targetted and harassed after the identity of the Toulouse killer was released.

“It’s insane, completely mad,” says Mohamed Merah, a Lyon resident. “My life was just turned upside down,” he told the French daily Ouest France. “For thirty hours, he lived holed up in his flat. I was confined to my bed.”

Merah bears the same name as the lone gunman who killed seven people, including three Jewish children, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the city of Toulouse in southwestern France.

On Wednesday morning, the media reported that the main suspect in a spate of killings in the region was called Mohamed Merah. That’s when trouble started for all those who were called Merah, a common Algerian surname, in France.

Some say they were harassed on the phone. Others say they received insults on their Facebook accounts or that their friends and employees were warned they might be in contact with a killer.

“People were publishing my photo on the internet, they said I was his spitting image,” a Mohamed Merah in Lyon told Ouest France. “I’m the same age, have the same origins, so people jumped to conclusions.”

On Thursday, the self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda militant Mohamed Merah was shot when special forces of the French police stormed the building where he was holed up. But it’s unlikely his name or face will be forgotten soon.

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CRIME

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.

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