French-speaking lawyer alleges abuse at hands of Flemish police

French-speaking lawyer alleges abuse at hands of Flemish police
Credit: Belga.

A young lawyer has filed a criminal complaint with the Leuven investigative judge, as well as with the police oversight body Committee P, alleging that he was abused by police officers in Flemish Brabant after a road incident, Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique reports.

Sami D, a young lawyer from Brussels, alleges that he was travelling with his wife to their home in Walloon Brabant on 14 June on a road in Oud-Heverlee, Flemish Brabant. The vehicle suddenly encountered a car blocking the road, which the lawyer’s wife swerved to avoid. Shocked, they pull over to the side of the road to investigate.

According to the testimony of the lawyer, the car parked in the middle of the road belonged to another motorist who had been ordered by the police to stop. The Brussels lawyer then approached two Flemish police officers to enquire about the reason for a stopped car in the middle of the road.

A traumatic experience

Sami says that the police told him to go away but the lawyer persisted, asking for an explanation as his wife was so shaken by the incident that she was unable to drive the vehicle and that the lawyer did not have a driver's licence.

“They laughed at us. When I insisted on the fact that the psychological damage was not a trivial thing, specifying that I was a lawyer, the answer was even more mocking, then vulgar, as one of the policeman said ‘leave before I lock you up’, adding that I could be kept at the station for 12 hours,” Sami told La Libre Belgique.

The police officers then insisted on performing a traffic stop on the lawyer and his wife, which the couple complied with. Sami says that the police were “annoyed” by the fact that neither he nor his wife could speak Dutch.

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Sami says that, after a short exchange with the officers, they became violent, pushing his wife aside and pushing the lawyer against his vehicle before being handcuffed and pinned to the ground. Sami called for help from other officers, who ignored his pleas.

The lawyer says that his wife burst into tears, before collapsing unconscious. The Brussels lawyer said that the arrest was “inhuman and degrading.” He sustained lesions to the ear, knee, torso, as well as a fractured left shoulder.

During his detention, the young man said that he was denied medical treatment, or the right to a lawyer.

He is now pursuing legal action against the police officers for his alleged mistreatment. “I have filed a complaint and we have joined as a civil party. I have the support of the President of the Bar, and I hope that will join this complaint. It seems manifest that the fact of being a lawyer and, moreover, a French-speaking person, posed a problem."

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