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More than 2,000 officers turn out for funeral of policeman killed in Brussels
The funeral for Thomas Monjoie, the Brussels police officer who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month, drew a crowd of more than 2,000 fellow officers from all across the country.
Monjoie was killed and his colleague was seriously injured in a knife attack in Schaerbeek, which has come under heavy criticism as reports indicate the suspect was on a terror watchlist and was permitted to leave a psychiatric ward just hours earlier after not meeting the criteria for detention.
The ceremony was held in Waremme, Liège province, and Belgian police officers formed a long line on either side of the street for the funeral procession.
Among those to speak at the service were Monjoie’s parents and partner, whose remarks along with the rest of the ceremony were broadcast on a large television screen outside the funeral home.
“My Tomtom, I miss you terribly. You were my sunshine,” his partner said. “I've lost my taste for life.”
Monjoie’s father was emotional in his remarks.
“'Daddy and Mummy are here, don't be afraid,' we often told you,” he said. “Since Thursday 10 November, it's mum and dad who are afraid. Afraid of life without you.”
He thanked his son “for being what he was: a courageous, smiling, generous, committed humanist”, and ended his remarks with: “Goodbye, son.”
Friends who spoke of Monjoie recounted fond memories of good times spent together, saying that his friendly nature meant he had no enemies, and that his death represented the unfairness of life.
Between speeches, some of Monjoie’s favourite songs were played. Before becoming a police officer, Monjoie was a musician who played the drums.
Fabrice Discry, the permanent delegate of the National Union of Police and Security Personnel, was also present at the service and remarked on the significance of more than 2,000 police officers from all over Belgium travelling to attend the funeral in solidarity.
“This mobilisation is really a reflection of the danger and the difficulty of our job,” Discry said.
“Today, all the police officers present are saying to themselves that they could have been in Thomas's place. Their thoughts are with Thomas, his colleague Jason [the officer seriously injured in the same attack] and obviously Thomas's family and the police family, which is in mourning today.
"It's more and more complicated to be a police officer. It is difficult every day and we are unfortunately confronted daily with this violence against the police.”
Other public servants also attended, including firefighters and emergency workers such as Thierry Bataille, who spoke to RTBF.
“I have only one word in mind: solidarity,” Bataille said. "I myself am an emergency nurse and we are very often confronted with violence, whether in the emergency room or outside, and I have many police friends for whom I feel very sorry today.
“So I really wanted to be there for them. I knew Thomas by sight so it really hurts me. I put myself in the family's shoes and it must be really encouraging to have so many colleagues present. It's really very moving.”
Elsewhere in Belgium, Monjoie was honoured by moments of silence and flags flown at half mast on police buildings.
The suspect in Monjoie’s murder was said to have shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ when he attacked. Waremme mayor Jacques Chabot said: “I respect the wishes of Thomas's parents when they say that we must not stir up hatred.”
“It's terrible,” Chabot said. “We have to let time and justice take their course. The fact remains that there is still a source of misunderstanding and that mechanisms have clearly not worked.”
The 29-year-old Thomas Monjoie was originally from Donceel and will be buried in the village cemetery of Limont.