Man wrongfully imprisoned in Brussels due to spelling mistake

Man wrongfully imprisoned in Brussels due to spelling mistake
A spelling mistake led to an innocent man's wrongful imprisonment in Brussels. © Belga

A Brussels resident was mistakenly imprisoned for over two weeks due to a spelling mistake and faulty evidence which led authorities to mistake him for the actual suspect.

The 36-year-old man from Tunisia was arrested after police mistook him for a man with a similar name, who was arrested in 2017 on charges of theft with violence and the illegal possession of arms.

The suspect was not held in custody pending the investigation and during the administrative proceedings an officer reportedly left out an “a” when writing down the culprit’s last name.

An arrest warrant was issued with the wrong name, leading police to take the innocent man into custody upon his return to Belgium from Paris.

Despite the fact that he had no criminal record and that he bore no resemblance with the actual suspect, the man was jailed in the Saint-Gilles prison for 18 days, Het Nieuwsblad reports.

The man’s repeated claims that he was innocent went unheeded and his claims could not be confirmed because a fingerprint collected as evidence was defective.

Authorities realised that there had been a mixup when the innocent man was brought before a court on 24 November, when a judge ordered his immediate release.

The man’s misfortunes did not end there since his landlord had reportedly had new locks installed in his home because he “does not rent to convicts.”

On 17 February, the court recognised that man had been wrongfully imprisoned because of an officer’s “unfortunate spelling mistake.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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