The Public Prosecutor’s Office has requested, before the Brussels Criminal Court, prison sentences of one and two years for three men. They are suspected of being involved in acts of violence, during the so-called “gilets jaunes” (“yellow vests”) demonstrations, on 30 November and 8 December in Brussels.
All three are suspected of throwing stones at policemen. One of them may also have destroyed a set of traffic lights, whilst another is thought to have injured a policeman whilst being questioned. The three defendants are arguing to receive community service sentences.
One of the alleged troublemakers is aged 37. E.F. is suspected of having flung a large cobblestone at policemen and of having injured a police officer, putting up resistance whilst being questioned. The incident was, in the end, broken up by other individuals present throwing stones and billiard balls.
Counsel for the Prosecution said that one police officer sustained a broken finger. The main protagonist [E.F.], acknowledged having thrown an object, but denies having the intention to injure whilst doing so. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has requested a sentence of two years’ imprisonment for the man.
His lawyer, Vincent Lurquin, indicated on Friday that his client “attended the demonstration to express his frustration regarding what are increasingly difficult living conditions.” The lawyer added, “There is insufficient evidence suggesting that [E.F.] actually threw the first stone.”
A further alleged rioter, interviewed a few days after the 30 November demonstration, appeared on Friday. S.B., aged 44, admitted targeting the officers, but expressed regrets for his actions to the court. The individual stated, “I have to get by on 800 euros a month.” He went on, “It was the first time that I had been to a demonstration. I am not actually a rioter.”
R.A., aged 23, was questioned in connection with a second “gilets jaunes” demonstration, on 8 December. He also threw stones at the police, and is thought to have destroyed a set of traffic lights. He admitted the incident.
Judgment relating to the three men will be given on 18 January, along with that for a fourth individual, who was appearing on Friday for similar offences. He is T.V., a young man aged 25, for whom the Public Prosecutor’s Office has requested one year’s imprisonment or alternatively a community service sentence.