The family of David Polfliet, who died in a brutal attack in a park in Beveren in East Flanders last week, have called for calm surrounding the case, describing the description of attack as homophobic as ‘premature’.
Early reports described how three youths, aged 16 and 17, had used a gay dating app to lure David to the park for a meeting. On arrival, it was alleged, they attacked him, resulting in his death.
The attack was immediately qualified as homophobia in the media (including The Brussels Times), but the family, speaking via their lawyer Laurent De Clercq, have described that conclusion as premature.
“Let us first wait for the investigation. The family feels tremendously supported and comforted by the deep compassion from society, but the fact that David is now being portrayed as a martyr does not help their cause,” said De Clercq.
“Of course, gay-bashing is a major social issue and should certainly be debated, but only if there are elements that indicate this. At the moment the family mainly asks for a little more serenity so that they can start the grieving process.”
An autopsy carried out this week has revealed that the cause of death was a stab wound to the thigh, which caused the victim to bleed to death. This has reportedly led investigators to question whether the death was premeditated murder or something else, such as an armed robbery gone wrong.
“The circumstances in which David died are terrible,” De Clercq said. “The family wants the perpetrators to be severely punished” he said, and is not opposed to the possibility of handing over the accused to an adult court. Belgian law allows for such a procedure in a case where the accused are aged 16 or 17, and the charge is a serious one. In that scenario, the suspects are tried as adults and risk a more severe sentence.
Meanwhile, the three accused have had their detention in a locked young offenders institution in Everberg outside Brussels extended for one month.