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Family of killed teenager vow to fight on after prosecutor's decision
The family of 17-year-old Mehdi Bouda, who died after he was hit by a police car in central Brussels in August 2019, have announced that they intend to keep fighting their case after the Brussels prosecutor’s office announced it will not be bringing charges against any of the parties involved in the accidental death after receiving the accident expert’s report.
The family’s lawyers described the ruling as “bitterly disappointing” and vowed that they would call for further investigations into the incident which claimed the teenager’s life.
It is not yet clear what action the Bouda’s legal team intend to take but they made it clear that they will not drop the case. “We're not giving up the fight,” said lawyer Selma Benkhelifa. The family had initially filed a complaint of involuntary manslaughter.
“A mistrial is inconceivable to us,” said Ayoub Bouda, the victim's brother. “We have requested access to the final file with the final documents and from there, together with our lawyers, we will see if it is possible to start additional investigations.”
“We will fight to be heard in one way or another,” added Fatima Bouda, Mehdi's mother.
Belgian law allows interested parties to request additional investigations if they believe the case file is incomplete. Such a request will be put before a court to decide whether a trial should take place.
In the case of Mehdi Bouda, the Court of First Instance in Brussels will make the final ruling on the prosecutor’s decision, at a date to be announced.
The death of the teenager from Anderlecht led to a number of protests at the time, culminating in a JusticePourMehdi demonstration in which 700 people took part. The decision of the prosecutor’s office could potentially stir more anger, with the family’s legal team alleging a bias towards the police.
“This decision proves that there is a form of impunity for police officers,” Benkhelifa told the court after the decision was announced. “It has become common practice within the justice system to protect the police.”
Mehdi Bouda was approached by police officers investigating a possible drug deal just before midnight on the evening of August 20 last year on the Mont des Arts in central Brussels. The teenager ran off down Rue Ravenstein after refusing to comply with the police officers’ orders, fleeing through the Galerie Ravenstein and out on to Cantersteen. Crossing the street at a pedestrian crossing in the direction of Central Station, Bouda was then struck by a police car travelling to another incident. He died later of his injuries.
According to witness statements, the teenager ran out between a van and a rubbish truck and across the crossing while the lights were red for pedestrians. Security cameras show the light was green when the police car crossed the previous junction, and the ‘black box’ in the car itself recorded that the vehicle was using its blue lights, but not its siren.
The accident expert’s report stated that, on estimation, the speed of the police car when it made impact with Mehdi Bouda would have been 95kph. The expert said that the victim would only have become visible to the driver at a distance of 2.5m. The report concluded that an accident could not have been avoided even if the vehicle had been travelling at 50kph.
“As a result of all of these elements, the investigating magistrate has decided not to indict anyone in this case, which means that no serious indications have been discovered that indicate the existence of a criminal offence,” the prosecutor’s office said. Therefore, the prosecutor concluded, no charges relating to any of those involved, including the driver of the police car, would be brought.