French police were tracking van in which child refugee was shot

French police were tracking van in which child refugee was shot

The man presumed to have been driving a van containing a number of Kurdish refugees, including a two-year-old child who was shot dead by police in a chase in May, has been arrested in the United Kingdom. Belgian authorities are to seek the man’s extradition. Two-year-old Mawda was with her family, being transported by human traffickers on their way into Belgium and eventually to the UK. The van was spotted by Belgian police on the E42 motorway. During the pursuit, a police officer tried to shoot out the van’s tyres, but missed; his bullet entered the cabin of the van and struck the child in the face. She died on the spot.

The driver will now be prosecuted as a co-defendant in Mawda’s death. “The police would not have fired if the driver had stopped,” explained Mons prosecutor Ignacio de la Serna. “If he had followed police orders and had not driven so dangerously.”

The man, arrested on 25 July on a request from the Belgian authorities, is a 25-year-old Iraqi national who has not been named.

However it has now been revealed that the van had been fitted with a GPS tracking device by French police, meaning they were aware of the trafficking well in advance of the incident. Their Belgian counterparts were not informed. Otherwise, had they known the van’s whereabouts were constantly being monitored, it would not have been necessary to bring it to a halt at that moment.

It is not clear whether the French authorities informed the central services of the federal police, but in any case, the police who undertook the pursuit would not have had access to the database, unless informed specifically.

“It’s more than likely the police carrying out the pursuit would have acted in a more measured manner if the exact context had been known to them,” said a judicial source in De Morgen.

The matter of police cooperation on both sides of the border will be investigated by the P Committee, which oversees police matters.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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