Anti-violence mood sweeps across nation

18th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 April 2006, BRUSSELS — Wide public support has greeted a Brussels MP's call for a march against senseless violence in the Belgian capital following the brutal murder of a 17-year-old at Central Station last week.

18 April 2006

BRUSSELS — Wide public support has greeted a Brussels MP's call for a march against senseless violence in the Belgian capital following the brutal murder of a 17-year-old at Central Station last week.

MP Fouad Ahidar was overwhelmed by telephone calls and more than 300 mails during the Easter weekend after urging on Friday night for a march against violence.

Ahidar was reacting to the stabbing murder of Joe Van Holsbeeck, who refused to handover his mp3 player to two assailants at Brussels Central last Thursday afternoon. The culprits — allegedly of immigrant origin — have not been arrested.

"I have received a lot of positive reactions. The Flemish Community reacted with much relief. They said they are so happy that an immigrant has publicly admitted that that there is a problem with a number of immigrant youth," he said.

"A lot of immigrants also reacted positively. They said that they would definitely participate in a march through Brussels, but on the condition that everyone joined in."

However, Van Holsbeeck's parents said they do not want the march to be held before the funeral on Thursday. Ahidar is prepared to accept that wish, but stressed the march must be held quickly before the murder fades from the public agenda.

Meanwhile, a team of 60 police officers are continuing the search for the killers, but investigations are proving exceptionally difficult.

Judiciary spokesman Glenn Audenaert said a judge will decide later this week whether surveillance camera footage of the suspects will be made public.

But a ruling in the affirmative is not guaranteed: "The rights of the suspects must also be protected", Audenaert said. There is also uncertainty about the quality of the footage.

And the pressure on police is only intensifying, especially now that Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has written a letter of condolence to the victim's family.

"This senseless murder will not go unpunished and the search for the culprits is an absolute priority for police and the judiciary," he wrote.

Catholic Cardinal Danneels has also intervened in the case, using his Easter sermon to criticise the witnesses to the peak-hour attack who did not try and help the victim.

The murder has also sparked a show of public sympathy. Flowers were regularly placed at the scene of the murder by members of the public over the Easter weekend.

Belgian rail NMBS-SNCB has stressed that its train stations are safe, but union ACOD claimed it has repeatedly raised concerns about safety in the past 12 months.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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