The criminal court of Mons will rule on the case of Mawda – an Iraqi Kurdish girl hit by a police bullet during a chase on the E42 motorway on the night of 18 May 2018 – on Friday at 1:00 PM.
A Belgian policeman and two Iraqi nationals are being prosecuted for Mawda’s death.
The public prosecutor’s office requested a one-year suspended prison sentence against the policeman who fired in the direction of the van, which was travelling at high speed with around twenty migrants crammed in the back, including children.
According to the forensic doctor and the ballistics expert, Mawda was in the front of the vehicle at the time of the shooting. The police officer stated at the hearing that he had not seen the child and that he had not received any information indicating the she was in the vehicle.
Accused of manslaughter, he added that he had intended to aim at the front left tyre of the van in order to cause a slow puncture, which would have forced the vehicle to come to a halt. When the van collided with the police vehicle, the bullet was deflected.
“There was adrenaline, the fear of having an accident. My client opened the window, pulled out his gun and leaned out of the car. It was dangerous, he was in danger of being hit,” said the officer’s lawyer.
The van swerved and avoided a collision with another police van, according to the lawyer. The officer’s right hand allegedly tensed up, causing the shot to be fired.
“The Advocate General, Ingrid Godart, had agreed that a shot fired by tension or reflex seemed to be compatible with the elements that had been analysed.” In her view, this was involuntary manslaughter in the absence of foresight or precaution.
“There is nothing in this file to prove that the police officer would have wanted to attempt to kill someone else. I cannot show that he had the intention to kill or that he had consciously accepted the risk.”
However, the issue of foreseeability, contested by the defendant, is not in doubt, the magistrate stated. “He decided to resort to a practice that is inadvisable, at night, at excessive speed, which is prohibited. No other police officer would have adopted such an attitude and, moreover, no other police officer used his weapon.”
Concerning the two Iraqi smugglers, the Royal prosecutor requested sentences of seven and 10 years in prison.
Frank Discepoli pleaded for the acquittal of the courier of the van. Also prosecuted in Liege, the young man faces seven years in prison. The lawyer insisted on the insufficiency of the evidence.
“We only have an anonymous witness on which the prosecution is basing its case, which is prohibited by the criminal investigation code,” he pleaded.
The third defendant’s lawyer also pleaded for the acquittal of his client. “More than 15 people stated that he was not the driver of this van, including a police officer,” he said.
The lawyer also believes that the man cannot be considered as co-author of a nasty traffic obstruction. “The Mons court has not been asked to rule on whether he is a smuggler or not, it is the Liège court that will decide this question”, he concluded.