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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 January 2021

Belgian judge asked to investigate death of young black man

Protesters gather after man, 23, died while in police detention in Brussels

People shout slogans in the Belgium capital, Brussels, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, during a protest asking for authorities to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the death of a 23-year-old black man who was detained by police last week in Brussels. AP
People shout slogans in the Belgium capital, Brussels, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, during a protest asking for authorities to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the death of a 23-year-old black man who was detained by police last week in Brussels. AP

Belgian prosecutors have requested the appointment of an investigative judge after the death of a black man, 23, who was detained by police last week in Brussels.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office announced the request Wednesday as about 300 protesters, some of them holding Black Lives Matter signs, gathered in Belgium’s capital on Wednesday.

They called on authorities to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the man’s death on Saturday night. He was publicly identified only with the initials IB.

The prosecutor’s office said IB was arrested after he tried to run away from police officers checking a group of people in downtown Brussels, despite Covid-19 measures restricting social gatherings.

He was taken to a police station where he fainted and then transferred to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the office said.

Prosecutors said Belgium’s Comite P, an independent body overseeing police services, is investigating and a coroner has been appointed to perform a post-mortem examination and toxicology tests.

Belgian media reported that IB had started to record the police with his smartphone on Saturday when officers decided to carry out an identity check on him.

The prosecutor’s office said it seized video surveillance images from the police station and at the scene of the man’s arrest.

IB's family and lawyer met the chief prosecutor on Wednesday morning.

The prosecutor’s office said the family was given guarantees that “all means are and will be implemented to shed light on what happened".

The demonstration in downtown Brussels was largely peaceful, although some protesters later threw objects at police officers and set fires in the street.

At one point, a car carrying Belgium’s King Philippe passed close to protesters and the driver changed routes under police protection.

The Royal Palace said the king was inside the car but was never in a dangerous situation, AP reported.

Updated: January 14, 2021 01:30 AM

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