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    Ministers condemn New Year violence

    © EDA
    © EDA

    Ministers from the federal and Flemish governments have criticised the failure of police to prevent trouble in Molenbeek in Brussels on News Year’s Eve. Pieter De Crem, newly promoted to federal home affairs minister (photo), said the police should have been better prepared, seeing as this is not the first time we have gone from 31 December to 1 January.

    Sven Gatz, the Flemish minister for Brussels affairs, pointed out that the change of years has happened in the past, and can be expected to happen in the future: “It is a repeated phenomenon that hot-heads and a portion of organised crime take on the streets on New Year’s Eve to cause damage, create damage and provoke emergency services,” he said.

    De Crem, meanwhile, paid tribute to police who had to deal with trouble-makers. “They did what they could, and certainly did their jobs, but they can’t solve everything,” he said. “The police services have to be better prepared for occasions like this. This is not the first time we’ve crossed from 31 December to 1 January.

    “There are structures in place to keep public order, “ he said. “But they can’t solve everything. The police have to be better prepare for incidents like this,” said De Crem, who will leave his ministerial post at the New Year to become mayor of Aalter in West Flanders. And he pointed the finger at the emergency service of the Brussels region and the zones of Anderlecht and Molenbeek. “I wonder if they are working properly. That’s certainly something we’re going to have to look at.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times