And he said that there had been shortcomings in intelligence with spies watching Merah but failing to prevent his killing spree, which also resulted in the deaths of three soldiers.
As evidence that agents warned that Merah was potentially dangerous ahead of the killings in Toulouse and Montauban, lawyers for families of victims have demanded a parliamentary inquiry.
In the latest revelations, two Toulouse regional security officials reportedly told a magistrate that they had tracked Merah in 2009, 2010 and 2011 but were told to stop surveillance and look into whether he could be recruited as an informant.
The two, Toulouse intelligence boss Christian Ballé-Andui and a brigadier known as “Hassan”, also said that they alerted their superiors that the Montauban killer might have been Merah in June.
The interior minister at the time, Claude Guéant, on Friday admitted that there was a failure during the operation that ended with Merah’s death.
The killer managed to escape surveillance via the basement of the block of flat where he lived and made a phone call, Guéant said, while insisting it was the only mistake made by the secret services.