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AFP, RTL, LE FIGARO (France)

Worldcrunch

PARIS – Outrage spread Monday after French TV station TF1 aired for the first time extracts of audio tapes between Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah and the police during the 32-hour siege on his apartment.

In the recordings, Mohamed Merah can be heard saying to the police negotiators: "Know that you are up against a man who is not afraid to die," adding that he was determined to continue his killing spree and claiming he had links to al-Qaeda and organized crime groups.

Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent, shot dead three soldiers, and three children and a teacher at a Jewish school, in a wave of killings that shocked the country. The 32-hour standoff on his Toulouse apartment ended with Merah shot in the head by the French police.

The broadcast of the recordings on Sunday has sparked outrage in France, starting with Interior Minister Manuel Valls who condemned the decision to run the conversation while court proceedings were still ongoing. Valls told AFP that internal affairs would be launching an investigation into the leak of the tapes.

The families of Merah's victims also blamed TF1 for its lack of respect for them and their grief.

Fabrice Lorvo, a lawyer specialized in media and communication issues, was quoted Monday by French daily newspaper Le Figaro: "We've entered an accelerating spiral. The case of Canadian killer Luka Rocco Magnotta was symbolic of the excesses the media should try to avoid, given it no longer has anything to do with the right to information."

Emmanuel Chain, the producer of TF1's "Sept a Huit", the program that broadcast the extracts of the tapes, justified his decision on French radio station RTL: "We acted responsibly," he said. "We weighed the matter very carefully before deciding to run the document because of its high news value."

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