On Thursday, the Criminal Court in Brussels acquitted nine policemen from the Bruxelles-Midi police zone accused of assaulting and mistreating an inmate at Brussels’ Forest prison. The court held that the police indeed resorted to force when transporting the prisoner to solitary confinement, without it being disproportionate.
The facts date back to 2009. The Bruxelles-Midi police force had to intervene at the Forest prison owing to a strike by the prison’s wardens. Several policemen offered to stand in for the wardens. Following the strike, several inmates lodged complaints, alleging the police mistreated several of them. The prisoners’ course of action was backed by the prison administration which had also voiced its concern at the behaviour of some of the policemen.
In the end only one inmate filed a civil suit. According to the inmate, following his request for a game of cards, the inmate was violently overpowered and handcuffed before being taken to solitary confinement. He alleges he was pushed violently against the cell bars several times.
The court indicated that it did not have evidence of ill-treatment Moreover, it considered that placing the inmate in solitary confinement was justified by the inmate’s conduct. As for the use of force that the policemen were accused of, it added, “it may possibly be that witnesses, including the prison administration, were shocked by the physical force used as they were not used to it, but such force was not unnecessary or disproportionate.”