A major French TV station was reprimanded on Monday over its decision to broadcast leaked recordings of the last words exchanged between Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah and negotiators, hours before he was killed in a shootout with police.
The emergence of the recordings, in which Merah is heard mocking police and saying he loves death more than life, stirred up emotions still raw three months after the 23-year-old Frenchman carried out a string of deadly shootings in the name of al Qaeda.
France’s CSA audiovisual board summoned several TV and radio stations for having aired the tapes but only reprimanded privately owned TF1 because it broadcast them first and without sufficient warning about their potentially shocking nature.
“I was shocked by the decision to air (the recordings) when I thought of the victims’ families, of those who were injured or otherwise affected by these events,” CSA president Michel Boyon told journalists at a news conference.
A besieged gunman suspected of shooting dead seven people in the name of al Qaeda boasted to police on Wednesday he had brought France to its knees and said his only regret was not having been able to carry out his plans for more killings.
In an unfolding drama that has riveted France, about 300 police, some in body armor, cordoned off a five-storey building in a suburb of Toulouse where the 24-year-old Muslim shooter, identified as Mohamed Merah, is holed up.
Authorities said the gunman, a French citizen of Algerian origin, had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he claimed to have received training from al Qaeda.