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Brussels: 500 protest death of Ibrahima (23) after arrest

Credit: Belga

Roughly 500 demonstrators gathered on Wednesday at the Brussels North police station following the death of Ibrahima B. (23), who died about an hour after he was arrested last weekend.

Even though Saint-Josse-ten-Noode mayor Emir Kir had only given permission for a static demonstration with 100 attendees, approximately 500 people showed up to ask for clarity about the cause of Ibrahima B.’s death.

Initially, the demonstration took place peacefully, but around 4:00 PM some commotion broke out, and several people started throwing stones and small firecrackers at the police, who deployed the water cannon several times, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

The organisers of the demonstration tried in vain to calm people down. In the meantime, the window of a police car was smashed, and small fires were started in a few places.

Credit: Niamh Moroney

Groups of people also advanced as far as the Place Liedts in Schaerbeek, where they smashed the windows of the police station. It is still unclear whether any arrests have been made or whether any people have been injured, the newspaper reports.

According to the Brussels public prosecutor’s office, the young man was arrested on Saturday 9 January around 7:00 PM, after he fled from a coronavirus check on the Place du Nord.

He was then intercepted and taken to the police station for questioning, but he lost consciousness upon arrival at the station. The present police officers notified the emergency services, who transferred I.B. to hospital, where he died at 8:22 PM.

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However, according to the family’s lawyer, Alexis Deswaef, the police first left the young man lying on the ground for five minutes.

“Those several minutes without care are crucial moments when Ibrahima’s life could have been saved. The officers left him to die,” Deswaef told Bruzz. “That is unacceptable. Unfortunately, we see in Brussels that this is no exception.”

“The family of the deceased young man and their counsel met with the public prosecutor this morning to obtain answers to some of their questions,” the public prosecutor’s office said in a press release on Wednesday afternoon, “and to assure them that all means are and will be employed to shed light on what happened.”

Police oversight body Committee P has opened an investigation into involuntary manslaughter.

A medical examiner was appointed by the prosector’s office to perform an autopsy as well as a toxicological examination. Additionally, surveillance footage in the police station and at the place where the arrest happened was seized and is being analysed.

Update: This story has been updated to add that the protests have spread into Schaerbeek.

Maïthé Chini & Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times