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New Year’s Eve violence in Brussels: More than 200 arrests plus 19 burning cars

Brussels New Year Belga
18:28 02/01/2020

Following 185 administrative and 26 judicial arrests by police during New Year’s Eve disturbances, six people have so far been charged by the Brussels prosecutor.

Three are accused of theft, the other three face charges of domestic violence, among others, according to the prosecutor’s office. Police have set up a taskforce to identify the perpetrators and have called on the public, media and local businesses to share any images in their possession.

“The aim is to identify as many rioters as possible and to prosecute them in order to send the message that such acts are unacceptable and will not go unpunished,” said spokesperson Denis Goeman.

In total, 19 cars and two moped were in flames and a 21-year-old man suffered a serious knife wound outside Beekkant metro station in Molenbeek, according to Brussels-Ixelles police spokesperson Olivier Slosse.

Following criticism of police handling of New Year’s Eve violence in 2019, which included riots in Molenbeek, Brussels-Ixelles police zone coordinated information for six police zones in the capital.

Police coordination worked well, according to Slosse. “Fire services were able to work in total security. These are dramatic figures, but police quickly intervened in very different areas. The situations did not have time to gain momentum in the same place. We have the impression that we managed to prevent the situation from escalating to the point of last year,” he said.

Stib reported a number of incidents, including the throwing of projectiles, a tram that had its windows broken and a damaged bus shelter.

Fire services intervened for 82 bins set alight and nine apartment fires. There were 19 cars on fire, including 15 cars indirectly damaged. A balcony also collapsed in Schaerbeek while people were standing on it. Five people suffered slight injuries.

There were 165 emergency calls for medical assistance; 50 to homes and 115 to public streets. During the firework display at the Atomium, there were 23 responses and 10 ambulance transfers. This was in addition to 60 interventions and five ambulance transfers during the celebrations at Palais 10 and 12 in Heysel.

Some 50-60,000 people took part in the New Year celebrations at the Atomium, according to Mariana Bresciani, spokesperson for Brussels Major Events.

Photo: New Year’s Eve celebrations, Atomium © Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Written by Sarah Crew


Frank Lee

New Yorkers watch a ball drop. Londoners listen to Big Ben's 12 strikes. Parisians admire the Eiffel Tower shooting fireworks. In Brussels, vandalism and arson are the way to welcome a new year. I feel proud to live here...

Jan 4, 2020 16:17