Expatica news

Family-in-laws identified as Brussels hostages

18 August 2005

BRUSSELS — The two hostages being held by a prisoner on leave in a Brussels city centre apartment since Wednesday night have been identified as the man’s former mother-in-law and her daughter.

And the situation was still deadlocked at about 10.30pm on Thursday.

The kidnapping started after Farid Bamouhammad stormed into the apartment — located above the café Albertine on the Magdalenasteenweg near Central Station — at about 6pm on Wednesday and took the two women hostage.

He allegedly threatened to shoot his mother-in-law — who has parental authority over the man’s two children — brandished a hand grenade and fired several shots outside.

Bamouhammad’s two daughters, aged three and eight, were also in the apartment at the time, but were released at about 10.30pm on Wednesday. The prosecutor has denied the children were released in exchange for cigarettes and alcohol.

It was initially believed the man kidnapped his former wife and another woman, but it has since been confirmed the hostages were his mother-in-law and her daughter.

The kidnapped women last appeared in front of the apartment window at about 4.30pm on Thursday, but the hostage-taker was not visible.

To ensure the safety of the hostages, the public prosecutor imposed a ‘information stop’ at about 5pm on Thursday because the kidnapper is following the media coverage.

Earlier, police had sealed off the area around the apartment and called in the bomb disposal squad DOVO and a specialist police intervention unit (SIE).

The kidnapper appeared briefly in front of the apartment window at about 8.15am on Thursday and shouted at police. 

The media was sent away from the sealed off area at about 9.30am and snipers were sighted, indicating a quick end to the kidnapping was about to occur. Nothing happened, however.

At 10am, negotiators with the federal police’s SIE squad spoke with the kidnapper and the hostages through the apartment window.

The public prosecutor then announced a press conference would be held at 3pm, but that was later cancelled.

A female police officer was slightly hurt at the start of the kidnapping. She was a member of the first team of police officers that arrived on the scene.

She was shot in the arm as the kidnapper fired his weapon from inside the apartment. However, the bullet only grazed her arm.

Police have sealed off the entire vicinity around the apartment.

The kidnapper, nicknamed ‘le Fou’, is a hardened criminal. In 1994, he shot someone dead in Brussels and soon after injured two police officers in a bank robbery.

He was convicted for the murder in 1997, but was released from prison two years later.

The man was presently being detained in the Aarlen prison for a kidnapping in a Brussels fast food restaurant in 2000. 

On that occasion, he held his then wife, their child and his parents-in-law hostage in a hamburger restaurant in Drogenbos. He was jailed for five years for the kidnapping. 

Bamouhammad was permitted to temporarily leave the prison after a children’s court judge allowed him to visit his daughter. The previous times the man had been allowed to leave his cell for a day had passed off without incident.

He left the prison again on Wednesday morning to visit his daughter and was meant to report back to the jail that night. 

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news