A mound of earth is seen near the grave site of Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin who was shot dead following a more than 30-hour siege last week, at the cemetery in Cornebarrieu, near Toulouse.

A French court has sentenced a 20-year-old man from the same neighbourhood as extremist gunman Mohamed Merah to three months in prison for praising his crimes, prosecutors in Toulouse said on Friday.

Mohamed Redha Ghezali was convicted on Thursday of “provoking racial hatred” and “apology for terrorism” and Toulouse prosecutor Michel Valet said the conviction was a signal that authorities would not tolerate any statements supporting Merah's crimes.

Ghezali was arrested last Thursday in the Toulouse area of Les Izards a few hours after Merah was shot dead in a hail of bullets after a 32-hour siege that followed his killings of three soldiers and three children and a teacher at a Jewish school.

The Depeche du Midi reported that while haranguing a group of police officers, he said: “My mate Mohamed, that's a real man. It's too bad he didn't have time to finish the job.”

Prosecutors had asked for a nine-month sentence and Ghezali had denied making the statement in court. He was not immediately jailed pending a possible appeal.

Valet told AFP prosecutors would “systematically pursue” anyone expressing support for Merah “given the extreme seriousness of his acts.”

“I will use this decision to send a message: I will be very firm, I will not let any of this kind of talk pass,” he said. - Sapa-AFP