AEL acquitted of forming private militia
1 June 2006, BRUSSELS — Antwerp Court ordered Arab European League (AEL) leaders Dyab Abou Jahjah, Ahmed Azzuz and Youssef Rahimi to stand trial on Thursday for their role in the Borgerhout riots after the murder of Mohamed Achrak in 2002.
1 June 2006
BRUSSELS — Antwerp Court ordered Arab European League (AEL) leaders Dyab Abou Jahjah, Ahmed Azzuz and Youssef Rahimi to stand trial on Thursday for their role in the Borgerhout riots after the murder of Mohamed Achrak in 2002.
The public prosecution had also wanted to place the three suspects on trial on charges they operated as a private militia keeping tabs on police during the same period.
But the defence lawyer for the three suspects, Kris Luyckx, said charges were dismissed during a hearing in chambers.
The 27-year-old Achrak was shot and killed on 26 November 2002 by his 66-year-old neighbour who was suffering from severe psychiatric problems.
Hundreds of immigrants rioted on the streets of Borgerhout that night, smashing car and shop windows and clashing with police. Unrest continued for several days and more than 100 rioters were arrested.
The public prosecution said Abou Jahjah, Azzuz, Rahimi and eight members of the AEL incited the riots. But Antwerp Court only ordered the three leaders to face trial on Thursday.
The three men will face charges of obstructing traffic, insubordination to police, destruction of 20 vehicles and numerous shop windows, assaulting police officers, threats and defamation.
The prosecution also wanted to press charges against them for forming a private militia.
The AEL established civilian patrols in Antwerp in November 2002 as its members took to the street dressed in black to ensure that police did not discriminate against immigrants.
But Antwerp Court said the actions of the AEL members did meet the legal conditions needed to classify them as a private militia.
"The goal of the AEL was not to replace the police or army but to inform civilians of their rights and gather information about possible incidents with police actions," Luyckx said.
The lawyer also said the court did not believe the black clothing constituted a uniform.
The AEL did not organise any exercises and was not armed either — conditions that need to be met when speaking about a private militia.
The court dismissed the charges against the 11 suspects, but the public prosecution can still appeal the ruling.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news