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More drugs violence in Brussels: two hospitalised in Schaerbeek

07:55 27/02/2024

Brussels police have responded to another drug-related shooting over the weekend, this time at Place Lehon in Schaerbeek in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police discovered a man on the ground with gunshot wounds and another man was found in a nearby street, the local police zone said, confirming media reports. Both were taken to hospital and the latter was in critical condition, although his condition has since improved.

“Initial findings from the investigation indicate that this shooting had nothing to do with the other shootings in Brussels in recent days, but only further investigation can rule this out with certainty,” said Yasmina Vanoverschelde of the Brussels public prosecutor's office.

“A ballistics expert has already been appointed to investigate the shooting.”

The public prosecutor's office said it was not yet clear exactly what happened, but that “the investigation is now in full swing and in the interest of this, the public prosecutor's office will not give any further information”.

Five Brussels politicians debated the flaring drug violence in Brussels at length on Sunday: Elke Van den Brandt (Groen), Sven Gatz (Open VLD), Benjamin Dalle (CD&V), Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf (MR) and Brussels MP Cieltje Van Achter (N-VA).

The fact that minister-president Rudi Vervoort (PS) seems to have little involvement in the debates was a concern raised from the majority.

“He could play closer to the ball; a little prompting wouldn't hurt,” Gatz said. “But we also ask that the federal level step up its game in the bigger picture, just as it did in Antwerp.”

Dalle said the Brussels government as a whole had responsibility: “Without a plan and coordination, you cannot solve this. Too little attention is being paid to prevention and the issues surrounding homelessness.”

Once again, a possible merger of the six Brussels police zones was floated.

“The six chiefs of police work very well together, that is not where the problem lies,” De Wolf said, but Van den Brandt, who spoke in favour of a merger, said the link between them needs improvement.

Nevertheless, Gatz said any merger would not be quick: “That’s a political debate. The Brussels Crisis Centre can bring solace in that respect. It can allow all information to flow between the police zones.”

Van Achter called security in Brussels a “breaking point” at the next government negotiations at regional level.

“It can't go on like this any more,” Van Achter summarised. “Police efficiency must go up.”

Written by Helen Lyons