Judge refuses collective police brutality complaint, says must be filed separately
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
@ Wikimedia Commons
A Brussels judge refused the collective complaint regarding police brutality made by the parents of a group of young people who participated in an illegal mass gathering to protest class injustice back in January, saying on Wednesday that their complaints must each be filed separately.
“They want to make it more difficult for us to act,” Joke Callewaert of Progress Lawyers Network, one of the lawyers representing those in the collective complaints, told The Brussels Times. “If you take those complaints apart, it’s much more difficult for us to build a strong case because then it’s always the word of one person against all of the police officers.”
The young people were arrested on 24 January because the unauthorised protest was a violation of coronavirus measures that prohibited mass gatherings. They and others are alleging that police responded with disproportionate force and violence when breaking up the gathering and conducting arrests.
In various testimonies from minors and adults alike, the protestors say they experienced police brutality, particularly at the Etterbeek station, where many were detained for several hours, according to Bruzz.
Around a dozen families filed a collective complaint regarding the matter on Tuesday. Callewaert says it’s important that the complaint be collective not only in order to bolster the strength and validity of the claims, but also to bolster the confidence of those filing it.
“It’s scary to press those charges alone,” Callewaert said, explaining that to do so requires an upfront fee of €250 and that if the police are ultimately found not guilty, the alleged victims could be on the hook for court fees up to €12,000.