The initial information about Toulouse killer Mohamed Merah suggests that his is a story of modern France. While the Presidency and certain media commentators would like to stop all debate about what this event means for our society, the precise opposite is true. Like the earlier case of Algerian-born Khaled Kelkal, who was shot dead by gendarmes in 1995 after being implicated in a wave of bomb attacks in France, the story of Mohamed Merah holds up a mirror to society. And, says Mediapart editor François Bonnet, it raises vital questions for presidential candidates who seek to provide an alternative to the current presidency.
In March 1996, seven French Trappist monks were kidnapped from their mountainside monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria. Two months later, their heads were found on a roadside in the same region, some hanging from trees in plastic bags. The circumstances of the killings remain a mystery amid suggestions of a cover-up by the French and Algerian authorities. A French judge is leading a revived investigation into the massacre but, just as he appeared to be approaching a breakthrough this year, Mediapart has learnt that key evidence has been declared missing from government archives.