The self-confessed gunman Mohamed Merah divorced his wife one day before French police launched an assault on his flat in Toulouse. Merah claimed he shot seven people in the Toulouse area to "avenge" Palestinian children.

"/> The self-confessed gunman Mohamed Merah divorced his wife one day before French police launched an assault on his flat in Toulouse. Merah claimed he shot seven people in the Toulouse area to "avenge" Palestinian children.

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CRIME

Toulouse gunman divorces wife hours before assault

The self-confessed gunman Mohamed Merah divorced his wife one day before French police launched an assault on his flat in Toulouse. Merah claimed he shot seven people in the Toulouse area to "avenge" Palestinian children.

23-year-old Mohamed Merah was married for three months to a yound woman in the Toulouse area, newswire AFP reports. Merah tied the knot in a religious ceremony in December.

“We were married on December 15 and our divorce was made official on March 20, two days before his death,” the woman told AFP. 

The couple were not joined in a civil marriage which means their union is not recognised by the state. 

His former wife, who has not been identified in the French press, has refused to say why their marriage ended so soon. 

However, the couple were divorced one day before the French police launched a assault on his flat in a quiet neighbourhood in Toulouse. The assault lead to a 32-hour stand-off before Merah was shot by a police marksman. 

On Monday last week, Merah shot three children and a rabbi at the Jewish school Ozar Hatorah in Toulouse. He claimed he acted to avenge Palestinian children and punish French for its involvement in Afghanistan. 

He also claimed two other attacks in which three paratroopers of North African and Caribbean origin were killed. 

CRIME

Top French central banker in corruption probe

French prosecutors said Friday that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Top French central banker in corruption probe

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard – a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 – would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.

Returning to the foreign ministry?

She wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”.

“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said.

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard’s explanation

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.

Her lawyer declined to respond Friday when contacted by AFP.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.

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