Racist shooting rampage shocks Antwerp

12th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 May 2006 (second update), BRUSSELS — The 18-year-old man who killed a black woman and injured a Turkish woman during an apparent racist shooting in Antwerp on Thursday has an extreme-right background.

12 May 2006 (second update)

BRUSSELS — The 18-year-old man who killed a black woman and injured a Turkish woman during an apparent racist shooting in Antwerp on Thursday has an extreme-right background.

After shooting and severely injuring the 47-year-old Turkish woman, Hans Van Themsche, 18, then shot and killed a pregnant Malinese woman, before killing a two-year-old native Flemish girl.

His rampage ended when a police officer shot Van Themsche in the stomach. He will now undergo police questioning in hospital on Friday.

Van Themsche has since been identified as the nephew of Flemish Interest MP Frieda van Themsche. His father was also a member of the party. The extreme-right party is the successor of the Flemish Block which was convicted of racism in 2004.

A shocked Frieda Van Themsche described her brother's son as "someone who grew up in an atmosphere of anti-violence". She said he was not even given a toy gun, but also admitted he had been out of sorts in recent times.

The young man comes from Wilrijk, near Antwerp, but was studying animal care at an agricultural boarding school in the West Flemish town of Roeselare. Police have found plans indicating he wanted to kill multiple victims.

Van Themsche disappeared on Thursday morning without saying a word to anyone and bought a weapon in Antwerp.

"Hans is a ready-to-laugh boy who was not conspicuous. He was in the school council and performed theatre at school," school director Luc Deprez said.

Nevertheless, the teenager was meant to be expelled from school on Thursday after being caught smoking and drinking on Wednesday night.

He is then alleged to have warned he would commit suicide and take 10 immigrants with him, using the derogatory term, makakken. "Than I would have at least done something good," he is alleged to have said.

Van Themsche then disappeared from school on Thursday morning.

The Antwerp public prosecution office has also described the suspect as an 18-year-old skinhead with extreme-right sympathies.

Witnesses said he was dressed in black and looked like had stepped out of the film 'The Matrix'. He also had combat shoes and army pants.

The immigrant community was quick to condemn the killings and staged a commemorative march and service in the city centre on Friday morning.

Candles and flowers have already been placed at the scene of the murders and a silent vigil was held at the scene on Thursday night. A silent march is planned in Antwerp on Friday 26 May to further honour the victims.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said society must not become involved in a round of spiraling violence. He said the shootings were "horrible, cowardly murders and a form of extreme racism".

"It must now be clear for everyone what the extreme-right can lead to," the Liberal VLD leader said.

The Flemish Interest was quick to declare that it is not linked to the murders in any way. Party chairman Frank Vanhecke said the suspect was not a member of the party and condemned the killings.

Antwerp Mayor Patrick Janssens is amazed that an 18-year-old could legally buy a weapon so easily. However, legislative plans in Belgium will in future impose a waiting time before a gun can be supplied to members of the public.

King Albert has indicated he will send a letter of condolences to the family of the three victims.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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