Monday, 25 May 2020
Two men have been arrested as prosecutors continue to investigate a filmed incident in which two police officers were beaten as they carried out an arrest in Brussels.
Both men are among those involved in a violent scuffle between passers-by and police during which several people can be seen hitting two officers holding a man to the ground during an arrest in Anderlecht on Wednesday.
Taken into custody after the brawl, the first detainee saw his arrest upheld by a judge on Friday and is the man who can be seen under police hold as several others attempt to free him.
Authorities said he was arrested because he attempted to carry out a theft using a knife as a weapon and said he was known to police for possession of drugs and weapons, theft, vandalism and offences related to his residence status in Belgium, Bruzz reports.
On Saturday, Brussels prosecutors said that a second man involved in the incident had also been arrested. They did not disclose the man’s role in the scuffle but said that he was already known to police services for “acts of rebellion in a gang.”
Footage of the incident, shared last Thursday, has circulated widely online since it was posted on social media by the VSOA/SLFP police union, who said they shared the footage to bring attention to a situation which “cannot continue.”
The event, which is being investigated by prosecutors as an incident of violence against police, drew a pledge from Belgium’s interior minister to send reinforcements to the Midi police zone, addressing recurrent warnings that the unit was seriously understaffed.
The footage was released by the union as the Midi police zone faces a manslaughter investigation after a teenager died during a police chase sparked by a check for compliance with the coronavirus lockdown.
A reconstruction of the scene of the fatal incident by De Morgen uncovered a series of inconsistencies in police’s account of the event, including claims that officers attempted to pressure a witness into altering his testimony.
The arrest on Wednesday is the latest of a series of incidents which have sent tensions soaring between the Midi police and residents of the municipalities under their competency (Saint-Gilles, Anderlecht and Forest).
The death of the 19-year-old in the fatal police chase in April brought on claims by residents that police were disproportionately targeting them when enforcing lockdown regulations.
At the same time, the VSOA/SLPF union claimed that the municipalities were under the grip of youth gangs.
The Brussels Times