Four accused of murdering Palestinian boy in Belgian asylum centre

Belgian authorities on Thursday charged four young Palestinian men with the murder of a nine-year-old Palestinian boy. (Shutterstock)
Updated 25 April 2019

Four accused of murdering Palestinian boy in Belgian asylum centre

BRUSSELS: Belgian authorities on Thursday charged four young Palestinian men with the murder of a nine-year-old Palestinian boy at an asylum-seekers' centre near Belgium's northern port city of Antwerp.
Officials said the boy, who had been staying with his mother in the Broechem centre, went missing late on Monday before a search turned up his lifeless body in a ditch on Wednesday.
The Antwerp's prosecutor's office said an investigating judge charged four of the five people who were arrested on Wednesday with his murder.
"The facts are qualified as hostage-taking and murder," the prosecutor's office in Antwerp said in a statement without confirming a news report the boy may have been kidnapped for ransom.
The accused are aged 19, 20, 21 and 24 years old, the prosecutor's office said, with spokesman Kristof Aerts confirming they are Palestinian. The fifth man arrested faces possible charges later Thursday.
The shocking case has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Charles Michel.
"An investigation will be conducted in a transparent and independent manner. The culprits must be punished," Michel wrote in a tweet earlier, offering his condolences after this "tragic death".
The boy, born in Lebanon but of Palestinian origin, had been staying with his 26-year-old mother in the Broechem asylum centre when he disappeared on Monday evening, Aerts said.
He was last seen riding his bike. A search operation found the boy's lifeless body in a ditch on the grounds of the reception centre on Wednesday afternoon.
Newspapers in the northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders reported the boy died in a possible extortion case.
The daily Het Laatste Nieuws said the boy's aunt, who lived in the same centre, had received a threatening telephone text message: "100,000 euros or you will never again see Daniel alive."
The prosecutor's office did not confirm the report.
A source close to the prosecution told AFP that statements that the accused have given investigators "are not clear" and none of them has confessed to the alleged crimes.
Belgium, a country of about 11 million inhabitants, receives about 20,000 asylum seekers annually, many of whom come from conflict areas in the Middle East, according to the Fedasil agency website.


6 dead after man opens fire in Czech hospital waiting room

Updated 25 min 46 sec ago

6 dead after man opens fire in Czech hospital waiting room

  • The attacker opened fire at people’s heads from close range
  • Police published a photo of the suspect, having withdrawn an earlier photo of a different man

PRAGUE: Six people were killed in a shooting in a hospital in the eastern Czech Republic Tuesday, the prime minister said. Police said the suspect is at large and described him as armed and dangerous.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis told Czech public television the shooting took place around 7 a.m. in a waiting room. The attacker opened fire at people’s heads from close range, Babis said.

He said he was heading for the site, at the University hospital in the eastern city of Ostrava, 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of Prague.

Police said the man left in a silver-grey Renault Laguna car and called on the public not to try to stop him.

Police published a photo of the suspect, having withdrawn an earlier photo of a different man. They said that man was now considered to be a witness.

Video footage and pictures published by public radio showed police arresting a person at the site but that person did not appear to be the shooting suspect.

Officials say people have been evacuated from the clinic. Police are boosting security across the country.