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Criminal complaint filed in Belgium over police use of force at pro-Palestine protest

May 30, 2024 at 8:04 pm

People gather to stage a demonstration to express their solidarity with Palestinians in front of Foreign Ministry building in Brussels, Belgium on October 11, 2023. [Mohammed Hammou – Anadolu Agency]

A criminal complaint was lodged, Thursday, in Belgium because of the severe police intervention at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy in Brussels, according to the country’s official news agency, Anadolu Agency reports.

The 28 May protest saw demonstrators advocating for Palestinian rights and condemning the recent attacks in Rafah.

The complaint by a prominent law firm in the capital alleges the use of “disproportionate force” by the authorities and targets the municipality of Uccle, where the embassy is located, along with Uccle Mayor, Boris Dillies, and the police unit that was involved.

Police employed tear gas, water cannons and batons to disperse the crowd.

Several students who were injured have come forward as complainants. Incidents reported include a demonstrator who sustained facial injuries from a baton and another who required eye surgery after being struck with a water cannon.

Dillies defended the actions of the police, asserting that the intervention was legal and justified due to the protest being unauthorised.

“When you participate in an illegal demonstration, you take this kind of risk,” said Dillies, expressing regret for the injuries.

The legal ramifications of the complaint may have broader implications for how demonstrations are managed and the acceptable limits of police intervention in Belgium.

The demonstration featured slogans such as “Enough”, “Stop the genocide in Gaza” and “Save Rafah”, with protesters demanding political and economic sanctions against Israel from Belgium and the EU.

In a related development, students from the Free University of Brussels organised another protest at the same location the following day.

That gathering was also met with a forceful police response and was subsequently dispersed.

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