Twenty people in Brussels were arrested on Thursday as locals clashed with police over the dismissal of criminal charges over the death of a local teen in a police chase.
Around 40 people defied the coronavirus ban on gathering and the late-night curfew to protest news that prosecutors in Brussels had dropped all charges against the officers driving the car involved in the crash that killed 19-year-old Adil this spring.
Police in Anderlecht said they had anticipated disturbances and deployed a large police detail in the municipality’s town hall square, Place Du Conseil.
A spokesperson for the local Midi police zone, Laziza Sadiq, said that protesters began gathering at around 8:30 PM in the square and that some threw projectiles “that look like Molotov cocktails,” according to Bruzz.
Two cars and one scooter were set on fire, the spokesperson said, adding that no injuries had been reported so far and that police managed to disperse the protesters at around 10:30 PM, just after the curfew kicked in.
Sadiq said that the situation was “otherwise reasonably under control” and that it was “not comparable” to the riots that broke out immediately after Adil’s death in April, which fed into tensions between locals and police over coronavirus fines and rules violations.
“About twenty people were temporarily detained,” Sadiq said, with fellow spokesperson Willemien Baert adding that three official reports were drawn up, including two for deliberate arson.
“In addition, a global police report was drawn up for armed rebellion. No suspects have yet been identified and investigations are still ongoing.”
The ruckus broke out on the day that prosecutors in Brussels announced that, following an investigation by a traffic expert, an involuntary manslaughter investigation into the death of the 19-year-old led them to drop the charges.
It will ultimately be up to a court to decide, at a later date as-of-yet unspecified, whether to file any charges in the case or whether to shelve it.
Responding to the news, the lawyer of Adil’s family said that they will request an additional investigation, arguing that the officer’s intervention was disproportionate to the situation.
“This should never have resulted in the death of a young man. Mistakes have been made, we believe that there are sufficient charges and objections to justify a public trial,” the lawyer told Bruzz.
The Brussels Times