An Antwerp woman who suffered an acid attack which left her with burns on 40% of her body is being maintained in a coma while she fights for her life, hospital authorities said. Meanwhile a man has been arrested in connection with the attack, the Antwerp prosecutor’s office said. The man is reported to be a former partner of the victim. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison for attempted murder. Should the victim not survive, he will be charged with murder.
The attack took place in broad daylight at a bus stop on Sint-Jansplein, about 1km from the Central station. The woman, aged 40, was rushed to hospital. The suspect, meanwhile, was later arrested in nearby Borgerhout. He was also taken to hospital under the influence of narcotics, and will be questioned later.
According to a police spokesperson, the man has a record of previous involvement with the police for domestic violence. He is also said to have been stalking the victim for a year since they separated. The victim, meanwhile, had contacted police to arrange an interview on 4 August to file an official complaint.
In the meantime, police are studying surveillance camera footage to gain more information on the attack, given that the victim’s condition makes it impossible for her to give a statement. The substance used in the attack has been confirmed to be sulphuric acid.
The government’s poisons centre advises rapid and prolonged washing with water of any area affected by a corrosive substance, including acid. For an attack in the street, as in this case, any cold liquid is better than nothing, Dr Geert Verstegen said.