Five people have been arrested and held on charges of hostage-taking and murder in the case of the nine-year-old Daniel, found dead in a ditch near to the asylum centre in Ranst where he was living with his mother. The prosecutor’s office in Antwerp has charged the five with murder, and remanded them in custody until Tuesday, when their imprisonment needs to be agreed by a court. Daniel, aged nine and reportedly a Palestinian, was found dead on Wednesday, bound and thrown in a ditch close to the centre for asylum-seekers where he was living with his 26-year-old mother. He had last been seen on Monday when he was reported missing.
Four of the five accused were detained on Thursday, and a fifth some time later. Aged between 19 and 34, all five have been charged with kidnapping and murder. It is thought they had demanded a ransom of 100,000 euros for the child’s return, but the office of the prosecutor has refused to give more details as the investigation continues.
According to the VRT, three of the accused were themselves residents in the centre, run by the federal asylum agency Fedasil. The boy’s uncle told the media the centre should be closed down. “There are a lot of children in the centre, but on the inside there is no control, and no care,” Bassam Shahata told VRT News. The channel reports that other residents feel unsafe. “The police have said they cannot be 100% sure the five men arrested are the ones who killed the boy,” one resident said.
A spokesperson for Fedasil said the agency was working on taking care of the remaining children in the centre.