Akram, the 29-year-old man who died after an arrest in Antwerp on Sunday was under the influence of amphetamines at the time, but his cause of death remains unclear the Antwerp public prosecutor reported on Wednesday.
Preceding the arrest, police had responded to a call near Antwerp central station. Akram was said to be seen throwing around tables and chairs belonging to a café and behaving aggressively towards passers-by, while possibly being under the influence of drugs.
During his arrest, police realised that Akram had stopped breathing. Ambulance personnel was able to revive him, but he later passed away at the hospital.
The drugs report is part of an initial screening of the man’s body. Following the screening, the public prosecutor has initiated an investigation that will be looking into the definitive cause of death.
Shortly after the man’s death was announced, protestors started the hashtag #MurderInAntwerp on Twitter. Many posted videos of Akram’s arrest taking place, accusing the police of using excessive force, with some referring to the Black Lives Matter movement.
A petition titled ‘Justice for Akram’ was launched on Sunday, with nearly 10,000 signatures gathered on Wednesday.
SAY HIS NAME #justiceforakram
An Algerian innocent guy was killed by the police in belgium, after they choked him to death, and it’s getting no coverage by the media, awareness needs to be spread, WE CAN’T LOSE ANY MORE LIVES #justiceforakram #MurderInAntwerp pic.twitter.com/fzUeJXI6BW
— dzalgeriens (@dzalgeriens) July 20, 2020
On Tuesday, approximately 200 people protested against police violence and for Akram in the centre of Antwerp. Akram’s mother, Zoulikha Zitouni, was present. Police, however, asked protestors to leave, stating that the protest had not been approved.
In addition to the investigation that has been launched into Akram’s death, Committee P, which exercises external oversight over the Belgian police, has also been appointed to look into the officers’ actions during the arrest.
Maïthé Chini & Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times