The Brussels prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the death of a man in police custody in Brussels.
The investigation has taken custody of the CCTV images of the man’s introduction to the police station and of the cell block where he was held, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The man is reported to be of Algerian origin, in his thirties. He was under administrative detention, signifying there were no criminal charges pending at the time of his arrest. He was taken into custody on Monday evening and was found dead in his cell, in a police station within the Brussels City-Ixelles zone, on Tuesday.
On 9 January, another man died in a Brussels police station after being arrested by police. The investigation into that case is ongoing, but it appears Ibrahima Barrie, aged 23, had fled police after being approached while filming another incident by the Brussels North station.
He was arrested shortly after, and brought to the police station nearby, where he became ill and later died.
A silent wake for the young man the following Wednesday descended into fighting between youths and police in Saint-Josse and Schaerbeek. A police station, a bus stop and an advertising sign were set on fire and paving cobbles were thrown. Police used rubber bullets at close range in clashes with the rioters.
For the time being, no details are being provided by the prosecutor’s office. A magistrate has been dispatched to the scene, together with a medical examiner and a representative of the P Committee, which oversees all police matters.
Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close (PS) posted a message on Twitter:
J’ai appris cet après-midi qu’un homme était décédé dans une cellule de police. Mes pensées vont à sa famille et ses proches. J’ai eu contact avec le parquet de Bruxelles, le chef de corps et mon collègue @doulkeridis. (1/2)
“I learned this afternoon that a man has died in a police cell. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. I had contact with the Brussels public prosecutor’s office, the chief of police and my colleague [Christos] @doulkeridis [Ecolo, mayor of Ixelles)”.
An autopsy will be carried out today, in an attempt to determine the cause of the man’s death.