Three bus troublemakers held in custody

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A 62-year-old policeman was trying to stop the fight between the youths and other passengers where he received heavy blows to his head, stomach and neck.

3 April 2008

ANTWERP - Following the bus incident in Antwerp on Tuesday where a 62-year-old policeman was badly injured, three young suspects have been taken in.

The incident, which took place on Tuesday, saw a group of young migrants got into an argument with the couple sitting next to them on the bus. A fight ensued and the bus driver and one of the other passengers, a plain clothes policeman, came to their rescue.

In doing so, the policeman received heavy blows to the stomach, the head and the neck. When the bus driver and the policeman finally succeeded in throwing the troublemakers off the bus, the latter received further blows from a group of youngsters standing at the bus stop.

The victim managed to get on the bus again but fell unconscious shortly after that. The man was then rushed to hospital where his condition is said to be critical if not life-threatening.

Two minors were taken in for questioning just after the attack, a third one was taken in yesterday following a tip-off. All three of them have made partial confessions but said the victim had exaggerated the events.

Two of the suspects, aged 14 and 16, have been referred to the juvenile detention centres in Mol and Everberg. They are said to be from the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.

Drivers keep their cool
Meanwhile, the public transport company’s drivers unions have reacted calmly to the events.

Yesterday, an analysis of the events by the unions and De Lijn management showed that the emergency procedures had been followed by the book and that the police intervention had been a quick one.

In a reaction, Flemish mobility minister Kathleen Van Brempt strongly condemned Tuesday’s incident. Van Brempt referred to De Lijn’s safety plan that is in full progress and includes measures to fight aggression.

“In order for this plan to work, it really is of vital importance that the police, schools and the Ministry of Justice work closely together,” Van Brempt pointed out. “And in this case, they did.”

By mid July, the safety plan will be fully up and running and it will also receive a first assessment.

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