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Brussels terrace van crash: Suspect charged with attempted murder
The suspect of the Brussels city-centre incident on Friday that resulted in six people suffering minor injuries, has been charged with attempted murder, report local media.
He’s a 28-year-old delivery driver from Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, named as M.G, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the incident was a terrorist attack. They believe the driver was aware that his behaviour could lead to the death of others. No information has been forthcoming about the motivation of the suspect, who’s reported not to be involved in extremism.
Driver left the scene of the crash
A van ploughed into two restaurant terraces in the pedestrian street Rue Saint-Michel near Rue Neuve on Friday around 12.50. The driver then fled the scene. At around 13.15, the empty van was found in Saint-Josse. An army demining team blew up the door of the vehicle before it was examined by forensic officers. The suspect was later arrested in Antwerp at 16.00
According to unconfirmed sources close to the investigation, reports RTBF, the driver may have “freaked out” in frustration at the new traffic plan in Brussels. Another line of inquiry is that he was suffering from mental health issues.
The OCAM (Coordinating Body for Threat Analysis) raised the threat level for crowded areas in Brussels to level 3 for one hour on Friday, before lowering it back down to level 2.
Witnesses to the incident
“Suddenly, we heard a car gaining momentum,” says one witness. “All at once, it made a bang. People were shouting in all directions, crying. The whole crowd from Rue Neuve came to Rue Saint-Michel, it was a disaster."
CCTV footage of the incident shows the vehicle knocking over tables and chairs, with customers throwing themselves backwards in an attempt to avoid it.
Six people were slightly injured but did not require hospitalisation, confirmed police and fire services.
Photo: Rue Saint-Michel after the incident © Belga/Laurie Dieffembacq