Van Themsche apologises for murders
2 October 2007, ANTWERP (AFP) - A Belgian teenager, on trial for murdering a toddler and her African nanny in a race-hate crime, on Monday apologised and told the court he loathed his actions.
2 October 2007
ANTWERP (AFP) - A Belgian teenager, on trial for murdering a toddler and her African nanny in a race-hate crime, on Monday apologised and told the court he loathed his actions.
On the first day of his double murder trial, Hans Van Themsche, 19, who admits the crimes, said "I want to say how much I loathe what I have done."
"I want to apologise to the victims, to their friends and also to foreigners," he continued with head bowed.
Turning to the public gallery, where the father of murdered two-year-old Luna Drowart had stood up, the accused looked up and three times repeated the word "sorry."
Van Themsche is charged with murdering, in May 2006, Oulematou Miangadou, a 24-year-old Malian nanny before turning his gun on her two-year-old Belgian charge when Luna, riding her tricycle, started crying.
He is also accused of the attempted murder of a 47-year-old Turkish woman, Songul Kos, who was also shot and seriously injured as she sat on a bench nearby.
The rampage was only stopped when a policeman shot and wounded him.
The teenager, standing in the dock in jeans and wearing a black tie, seemed a long way removed from the shaven-headed, black-coated figure in army boots who decided to "kill foreigners" on 11 May 2006.
"I fired because it was a foreigner, when the young girl cried I shot her as well," he told the court, as the mother of the nanny, who came from Mali to attend the trial, began sobbing.
When he was shot by a policemen "I told him three times to shoot me in the head," said Van Themsche.
The racist issue is particularly sensitive in Antwerp, northern Belgium, where there is a big Orthodox Jewish community as well as sizeable north African minorities.
Van Themsche said that his extreme-right convictions were partly due to being harassed by a young immigrant at school.
He described his "passion for arms" and video games, especially ones based on World War II, adding that he had found a copy of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" among the belongings of his grandfather, a former member of the Waffen-SS.
He said his descent began on 9 May 2006 -- two days before the murders -- when he was kicked out of his boarding school for drinking and smoking in his room.
"My future was disintegrating," he said. Rather than staying at a friend's or explaining the situation to his parents. He decided to "end it". His plan was to kill as many foreigners as possible and then get shot dead by the police.
He is being tried under a new law against hate crimes -- the first time it has been used since it came on the books in 2003 -- according to a spokesman for the prosecutor.
The 2003 hate crime law covers crimes where the motive is deemed to be racism or other types of discrimination, such as homophobia.
If the jury deems a defendant guilty of a hate crime then two years can be added to the regular prison sentence.
In this case Van Themsche could face from three years to life in prison.
The defence team argued that the publicity given to the case, which was widely covered in the Belgian press, made a fair trial impossible.
[Copyright AFP 2007]
Subject: Belgian news