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Brussels mayor wants courts to be tough on juvenile vandals in Marolles
Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close has filed a civil suit against four juveniles who vandalised property and police vehicles in the Marolles over the weekend. A spate of violent incidents over the last week has angered authorities and residents in the historic neighbourhood in the centre of the capital.
The first incident occurred on 31 August, when an as-yet-unidentified person shot bottle rockets in the direction of police who were responded to a call at a residence. Then last Friday night, two juveniles smashed the window of a creche, and two others pummelled police cars with rocks, causing damage to three vehicles.
Things only got worse on Saturday night when unidentified people threw Molotov cocktails at firefighters responding to a blaze. As the firefighters worked to douse flames in rubbish bins and a delivery van, the weapons were thrown in their direction.
The incident was similar to one in Molenbeek some 10 days earlier. No firefighters were struck in either incident but “are shocked” that this would happen again, said Walter Derieuw of the Brussels fire brigade. “Our people on the ground expect a strong signal from the government that these lawless individuals are identified and punished.”
The brigade suspects that the fires are being set to draw them into the neighbourhoods where they can be targeted. “It would perhaps be a good idea to qualify these incidents as criminal acts, with charges of arson or attempted manslaughter.”
While the four youths who vandalised property on Friday night were arrested and await court appearances, the people responsible for the bottle rockets and Molotov cocktails have yet to be identified.
Mayor Close said that he did not want to “stigmatise” the neighbourhood, recognising that it was “a minority” who were committing the crimes. “And they need to be dealt with forcefully,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, we find them, and I hope that the courts hand out as tough a punishment as possible.”
Photo ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA