Court room before the start of the trial of Abdelkader Merah
Court room before the start of the trial of Abdelkader Merah Reuters

The older brother of a French jihadist who shot dead seven people in Toulouse in 2012, including three Jewish children, was given a 20-year jail sentence Thursday after being convicted of a terrorist

Abdelkader Merah was however cleared of having a direct hand in Mohamed Merah's killing of three soldiers and the attack on a Jewish day school, where he gunned down a rabbi, two of the rabbi's children, aged three and five, and an eight-year-old girl.

The prosecution had sought a life sentence for Abdelkader.

The trial was the first arising out of a wave of violence by mostly homegrown radical Islamists that has claimed the lives of more than 240 people in France in the past five years.

Mohamed Merah's March 2012 attack on Ozar Hatorah school, which he carried out in the name of Al-Qaeda, was the deadliest on Jews in France in three decades.

Over the course of his eight-day killing spree, the 23-year-old also shot dead three soldiers in the garrison town of Montauban before being killed by police after a 32-hour siege at his home.

His 35-year-old brother and mentor Abdelkader, who had nurtured his interest in jihad and defended the killings, was arrested shortly afterwards on charges of complicity.

But while admitting to having been present when his brother stole the scooter he used in the attacks, Abdelkader denied any knowledge of his intentions.

His conviction on the separate charge of being part of a terrorist conspiracy was seen nonetheless by the victim's families as a victory.

"Justice has been served," Patrick Klugman, lawyer for the family of slain rabbi Jonathan Sandler said.

A second defendant, Fettah Malki, who supplied Mohamed Merah with a machine gun and a bullet-proof vest, was given a 14-year sentence after also being found guilty of involvement in a terrorist conspiracy.