The police zone Brussels-City-Ixelles has opened an investigation into an incident in the Marolles district of Brussels last weekend in which a young man was forcibly restrained by police after he was in breach of social distancing rules.
The man was standing smoking at the door of his home when he got into conversation with two other men. Police noticed the group and intervened.
According to witnesses, the police were hostile and aggressive, and called for reinforcements before forcing the first man to the ground. More police arrived, their vans blocking the road. In the end 29 officers attended the incident.
In a video shot by the man’s sister from an upstairs window, we can clearly see the man being held on the ground by three police officers while others confront onlookers, and one female police officer goes off in pursuit of a man who had photographed the scene with his phone.
The man’s sister later told Bruzz, “When my brother said he didn’t have his ID card with him, the officers threw the things he had on the floor and pulled him by the hair. The officers justified what they did by saying that he refused to cooperate. But how can you justify such violence in this way? How long do we have to tolerate this?”
The man was finally placed in a police van and the Brussels prosecutor’s office contacted, It then emerged that the man was under house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet, and he was transported to the prison of Saint-Gilles in breach of the conditions of his sentence.
A spokesperson for the police zone declined to comment, other than to say the original officers had called for back-up when the situation appeared about to deteriorate.
Meanwhile the same police zone is investigating a complaint about another case of alleged police violence in the Anneessens area of central Brussels.
The victim in that incident was a young Sudanese migrant. Police pulled up in a van, narrowly avoiding hitting him as they tried to head off an attempt to escape. According to eye-witnesses they then dragged him along the street and threw him against the side of the van and hit with a baton when he was unable to answer their questions.
Mehdi Kassou, a social worker who works with the citizens’ platform for migrants, witnessed the incident, and told how the man was placed in the vehicle which drove away.
He was later summoned to a nearby doorway, where the Sudanese man was lying, beaten and suffering the effects of pepper spray.
The spokesperson for Brussels police said an internal investigation was taking place into these allegations also, and the appropriate action would be taken if the accusations proved to be grounded.
“Practices like that are not tolerated in our force,” she said.