A haul of guns and a cannabis shed: Inside the home of crazed Belgian killer who launched grenade attack on Christmas market
- Killer named as Nordine Amrani, from a Moroccan background and on parole
- Due to answer a summons about ‘sexually molesting’ a young woman
- Had previous convictions for drug dealing and keeping an arsenal of weapons
- One lawyer says Mr Amrani had 'a grudge against the law' and thought he had been 'wrongfully convicted'
- Previously found guilty of keeping 10 firearms, 9,500 gun parts in his flat and 2,800 cannabis plants
- Another lawyer said orphaned Amrani was 'a man deeply marked by the loss of his parents' and 'was crazy about weapons'
By Peter Allen
Last updated at 10:41 PM on 14th December 2011
Casually propped against a wall, these two rocket launchers and hunting rifle are just some of a cache of guns inside the home of 'weapons mad' Belgian killer Nordine Amrani.
The arsenal was uncovered by police during a raid of the gunman's home during October 2007 and also includes several other powerful rifles, ammunition, and what appears to be a flak jacket.
Amrani, who on Tuesday murdered four people and wounded 125 others, also used his home in the city of Liege as a cannabis factory, with police finding more than 2,800 plants during the raid.
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Pictured is a room in Amrani's flat raided by police in October 2007 showing various weapons and military style clothing
Firearms: Pictured are just part of the weapons cache police found at Amrani's flat in October 2007
Plantation: Police found a cannabis den containing 2,800 plants in a shed owned by Amrani in 2007
Amrani had rigged up special lighting and was growing more than 2,000 plants in a shed discovered by police
Yesterday, Amrani's lawyer said he carried out the attack because he feared being sent to back to prison for a sex crime.
Killer: Nordine Amrani murdered a cleaning lady in his rented flat before heading off on a bloodthirsty rampage in the centre of the Belgian city
The 32-year-old convicted criminal, who was due to marry his long-term girlfriend, used grenades and a semi-automatic rifle to cause carnage in the Belgian city before turning a revolver on himself.
Among his victims was a 45-year-old cleaning lady whom he shot dead near his home on Tuesday morning, as well as a 17-month old baby boy.
Defence lawyer Jean-Francois Dister said Amrani, a Belgian from a Moroccan background, was on parole and was due to answer a summons about allegedly ‘sexually molesting’ a young woman.
He is thought to have attacked the unnamed victim after driving alongside her in his van. Its number plate was captured by CCTV.
One of Amrani’s numerous previous convictions was for rape, for which he had been given a two-year suspended sentence in 2003.
If convicted again for a sex crime, he would have had to serve it.
This would have also meant his girlfriend, a nurse called Perrin Balon, finding out about the sex allegations against him.
‘He feared being returned to prison,’said Mr Dister. ‘He called me twice on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday morning about it.
‘What worried him most was to be jailed again. According to my client it was a set-up by people who wanted to harm him. Mr Amrani had a grudge against the law.
'He thought he had been wrongfully convicted.’
After Tuesday’s attack, the bag Amrani used to carry his haul of weapons was found to still contain several loaded magazines, as well as a number of live grenades.
An enquiry has been launched into why he had not been under closer supervision while on bail after early release from a sentence of nearly five years.
His weapons were confiscated because of his other criminal offences, yet he managed to obtain a FAL Belgian assault rifle, grenades and other weapons soon after his release in October 2010.
Belgian’s notoriously liberal criminal justice system is already facing questions as to why, in October 2010, the killer had been released from prison three years early after being convicted of firearms and drug offences.
Destroyed: Bomb disposal experts created a controlled explosion on the killer's car after finding it parked up in Liege
Police last night conducted thorough searches of a building owned by Nordine Amrani (left) and his flat (right)
Looking: Police pictured searching through Nordine Amrani's apartment last night
In 2008 he had been found guilty of keeping 10 complete firearms, and an astonishing 9,500 gun parts in his flat, along with 2,800 cannabis plants nearby.
On Tuesday morning, Amrani is thought to have tried to rape the woman cleaner in his flat, where police had found an arsenal of weapons including a rocket launcher, AK47 and Kalashnikov.
Police said he killed her 'with a bullet to her head' and then dumped her body in a lock-up shed where he was growing cannabis plants.
He then left money for Ms Balon, with a note that said: 'Good luck! I love you.'
A police source said: 'The cleaner had been working in a neighbour's home. It appears that Amrani had invited her into his own flat to discuss the possibility of cleaning his flat.
'There were signs of a struggle, and it may be that Amrani had tried to rape her.
'Whatever happened, she was undoubtedly his first murder victim on Tuesday morning.'
Cedric Visart Bocarme, the Belgian Attorney General, confirmed that the woman 'would have been murdered by the killer just before he went to Place Saint-Lambert'.
The attack brought horror to Belgium's fifth largest city, with crowds of shoppers, many of them children, screaming and running in panic as grenades exploded and shots rang out.
Mourning: A woman places a cuddly toy in a broken bus shelter in the Place Saint-Lambert in Liege
Grief: Five people, including the gunman himself, died in the incident which is being mourned by Belgians
Tributes: People were this morning seen leaving flowers at the scene of the deadly grenade attack in Liege
Clean up: Workers this morning started to clean up the debris from the rampage
Injured: Cynthia Cannella was wounded in the attack
Today, a small crowd gathered at the Place Saint-Lambert for a minute's silence at 12noon, 24 hours after the shooting.
Students at the Saint Barthelemy High School - attended by two of the victims - also joined hands and observed the silence.
Abdelhadi Amrani, another lawyer who worked for the killer but is not related, said he had grown up in foster homes after being orphaned as a child.
‘I remember a man deeply marked by the loss of his parents,’ said Ms Amrani. ‘He lost his father and mother very early. He was marked by fate.
‘I would add he was a very smart boy, gifted.
'Nordine often spoke of his desire to start a family. He was to be married to a nurse in Liege.’
Commenting on Amrani’s background, Ms Amrani said: ‘He did not feel at all Moroccan. He did not speak a word of Arabic, and was not Muslim. What he said is that he felt like a Belgian.
‘He was crazy about weapons, but as a collector.
'He felt he had not had much luck in life and felt unfairly treated by the courts.
'This was the fed-up cry of a tormented soul – he was estranged from justice, and against society.’
A 17-month-old baby boy called Gabriel became the fourth victim after dying in hospital late on Tuesday night despite undergoing hours of emergency treatment.
Gabriel was in the arms of his mother when he was hit by a bullet in the back of the head. The child and his parents were at the bus stop just below the walkway from where Amrani opened fire.
Amrani had been due to attend a police interview in the late morning but never showed up.
Instead he left his apartment armed with a Belgian-made FN- FAL automatic rifle, a handgun and up to a dozen grenades carried in a backpack.
He drove the five-minute journey from his 1930s apartment building the Residence Belvedere and parked his white van in Place St Lambert.
He walked on to a raised walkway above a bus stop where lunchtime shoppers were thronging for the opening of a Christmas market.
From his 15ft high vantage point he lobbed three hand grenades towards a busy bus shelter before opening fire on the crowd. A 15-year-old boy died instantly while the baby of 17 months and a 17-year-old boy succumbed to their injuries in hospital.
Five people are still fighting for their lives, including a 75-year old woman who was initially declared dead on arrival at hospital.
Stopped in his tracks: A body, thought to be gunman Nordine Amrani, lies on the pavement close to a gun and full clips of ammunition. It is unknown whether Amrani killed himself deliberately or accidentally
Chaos: Police watch out for the gunman (left) as paramedics attend to the injured (right)
A body on a roof overlooking the square in Liege is believed to be that of attacker Nordine Amrani, a convicted sex attacker and drug dealer
Rescuers evacuate injured people at the Place Saint Lambert square
Belgium's King Alert II, centre, and his wife Queen Paola arrived in Liege last night to visit the injured
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to all the people saying he should have been deported after serving his sentence, he was born in Belgium and had Belgian nationality so he was not an immigrant. what i would like to know is why he was given a suspended sentence having been found guilty of rape? ??
- dragonfly, N London, 14/12/2011 20:39
He had a long term girlfriend????
- Poppy, Skye, 14/12/2011 20:06
Why didnt he either think about it before or apologise and just kill himself. Why ruin more lives
- only my opinion, the land of free will, 14/12/2011 19:55
This was not a racist attack. It was simply a coincidence that he was Muslim and decided to drive to a 'Christmas' market to attack his victims.
- NeverCeasesToAmaze, Norfolk, 14/12/2011 19:33
"Scared of going to prison" that is no excuse for what he has done to those poor innocent people.
- Tigger, Uk, 14/12/2011 18:57
Well score zero for Belgium's legal system letting a convicted sex attacker and drug seller hit the streets again. Liberality has its price. - Pass the Dynamite, London, 14/12/2011 15:12 Yes because our legal system is a-grade isn't it. My thoughts are with the innocent victims and their loved ones.
- Prodigious Talent (I Cook The BEST Roti!), UK Born & Bred Lifetime Taxpayer@29, 14/12/2011 18:45
The simple and sad lesson that we never seem to learn in Europe is - do not let violent criminals out of prison.
- DT, Northants, 14/12/2011 18:21
"Liege Prosecutor Daniele Reynders said: 'At no moment in any of the judicial proceedings against him was there any sign of him being mentally disturbed.'" - Really? A history of sexual violence isn't a sign of being mentally disturbed? Because I'd say that's a pretty damn big sign, Daniele; but, hey, what do I know? :/
- Nikki, Boise, Idaho, 14/12/2011 18:13
Horrifying my thoughts and prayers for all those affected by this madman. There is too much evil in this world.
- little old me, my own little world, 14/12/2011 18:07
Thanks to the liberal brigade,our laws are just as lax.
- A.S.A.P (Anglo Saxon and Proud], Nottingham, England, 14/12/2011 18:04
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Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Nordine Amrani: Inside the home of crazed Liege killer who launched Belgium grenade attack | Mail Online