Racist double murderer sentenced to life
12 October 2007, ANTWERP - A young Belgian was given a life sentence by a court in Antwerp Thursday for the racist-motivated double murder of a two-year-old girl and her African-born nanny.
12 October 2007
ANTWERP - A young Belgian was given a life sentence by a court in Antwerp Thursday for the racist-motivated double murder of a two-year-old girl and her African-born nanny.
The crime unleashed a countrywide debate on racism in Belgium in 2006, when the 19-year-old shot dead the two-year-old and her nanny on the street and seriously injured a Turkish woman.
He later admitted to the racist motivation, saying during his trial he had consciously chosen his victims from their appearance.
The city of Antwerp, where the murders happened, is a stronghold of the openly xenophobic Flemish party Vlaams Belang (VB), which has been fuelling racist sentiment for years.
The crime started a debate over how far the VB's rhetoric was influencing incidents like this. However, the party has been denying any responsibility.
The jury already found the accused guilty on Wednesday evening, dismissing the defence's argument that the 19-year-old was mentally ill or insane when he committed the crimes. According to the court, his racist motivation was also clear.
Defence lawyer Pol Vandemeulebroucke called his client insane in his plea because he showed no real remorse. Psychiatrists estimated the risk of a recurrence at 98 per cent.
At the same time, the lawyer played down the murderer's motives: "He had racist songs, made jokes and showed the Hitler salute. So what. How many other young men do the same?"
The victims' relatives were relieved when they heard the verdict which acknowledged the victims' suffering.
The lawyer of the injured Turkish woman said his client knew now why she had become a victim: "She was shot because she was wearing a headscarf."
Subject: Belgian news