Investigating magistrates of the Brussels judiciary refuse to inform the media and the public any longer about the investigation into the murder of 17-year old Joe Van Holsbeeck. The Brussels judiciary is angry with Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian minister of Justice, because she demands that it formally apologize for having “stigmatized” the “entire North African community.”
Based on witness accounts, including that of Joe Van Holsbeeck’s friend, who stood next to the boy when he was stabbed in Brussels Central Station, the judiciary had told the media from the start that it was looking for culprits with North African features. Gangs of violent North Africans are known to roam around the train and metro stations of Brussels. Even spokespeople of the Moroccan community acknowledge there is a serious problem of racist violence perpetrated by Muslims against non-Muslims. However, when one of Joe’s murderers was caught in Brussels last Monday, he turned out to be a Polish gypsy and not a Moroccan. The second suspect, the 17-year old Adam G., was caught today in Poland.
Glenn Audenaert of the Brussels federal police formally apologized for having told the public that the murderers were probably North Africans. He even added that the generalisation of crime with North Africans had made him “understand how anti-semitism was able to creep into our homes in the thirties.”
The judiciary, however, refused to formally apologize because it had based its information to the press on the accounts of several witnesses. This attitude has outraged the government. Minister Onkelinx, a leading member of the Parti Socialiste, told Belgian radio this morning that “apologies of the judiciary are necessary” because “an entire segment of the population has been stigmatized” by its declaration that the culprits were people with “North African features.” “This is unacceptable. Serious damage has been done,” she said.
Her criticism has led to a row with the judiciary, which, as a consequence, is refusing to pass on information to the press and the public.
After the murder the Belgian authorities, the media, the police and even the Van Holsbeeck family had taken great care not to stigmatize the entire Muslim community, despite the general assumption, based on crime patterns in Brussels, that the murderers could be North Africans. The police had carefully inquired whether Joe had not made racist remarks when he refused to hand over his MP3-player to the criminals. The Van Holsbeeck family decided not to have a (Catholic) funeral Mass for Joe, but a burial ceremony, in order to ensure that the Muslim population would not feel excluded.
Last Saturday Frank Dewael, the son of Patrick Dewael, the Belgian interior minister was mugged by someone whose origin may not be mentioned. The minister personally rang the editors of the Belgian press, asking them not to write about the event.
MP3 Murderers Said to Be Polish Gypsies, 26 April 2006
Belgian Authorities Apologize to North African Community, 25 April 2006
Brussels MP3 Murderer Is Polish, Not Arab, 25 April 2006
Thousands Protest Brussels MP3 Murder. BBC Omits Facts, 23 April 2006
Van Holsbeeck Murder: Bending Over Backwards in Brussels, 20 April 2006
Murder Shocks Brussels While PM and Cardinal Blame Victims, 19 April 2006