One of the five men suspected of involvement in the murder of a nine-year-old boy in an asylum centre in Ranst near Antwerp has confessed to being involved, De Standaard reports. Daniel C. was living in the Fedasil centre at Broechem (photo) with his mother, both Palestinian refugees from Lebanon. The boy was found dead after going missing for two days, and has since been buried in Lebanon. His mother remains in Belgium, but has stated she no longer wishes to stay.
Five men were arrested, suspected of holding the boy hostage in return for a ransom from his parents, who are estranged. This week the five were interviewed at length by federal police, and one, a 20-year-old youth, broke down under questioning and admitted his part in the crime. The news has not, however, been confirmed by the prosecutor’s office, and the youth’s lawyer declined to comment to the paper. The youth concerned is believed to have been responsible for sending a threatening message to Daniel’s mother via What’s App. He and another youth aged 19, who previously claimed to be only 17 until his true age was confirmed by a bone scan, remain in custody. The motives for the crime have not yet been determined.
Meanwhile three older men, aged 21, 24 and 34, were released from custody on conditions. The prosecutor’s office stressed that their release does not signify that they have been ruled out as suspects. The three were identified from telephone contacts with the two younger suspects, and also gave them lodgings. Should they fail to meet the conditions of their release, they could be returned to jail. It will be up to a committal hearing at the conclusion of the investigation to rule on whether they should face charges in court, and which charges those might be.
According to lawyer David Thoeng for the 34-year-old, the release is an indication that the investigating magistrate has decided there is not enough evidence of guilt to detain his client further. Another lawyer told the paper, “This is in line with what we expected.”