Belgium’s stance on imposing police on undocumented migration will be decided on Monday when an officer is prosecuting the shooting death of a two-year-old Kurdish girl.
Maduda was seriously injured in May 2018 when a police officer opened fire on a van running across Belgium, forcing smugglers to flee the subcontinent to Britain. The officer said he intended to shoot the tire to stop the suspect’s vehicle during a high-speed chase, but his car was hit and the shot went off.
The tragedy sparked a scandal in Belgium and became a symbol of the “criminal” dangers of illegal migration for human rights activists. The officer who fired the shots, allegedly the 40-year-old father of two with eight years of police experience, has not been named publicly.
But he faces a charge of immovable genocide and will appear in court in the city of Mons, along with two Iraqi Kurds, a van driver and an alleged human smuggler. The officer does not deny that he pulled his gun and fired to stop the fleeing vehicle, but insists he did not know the refugees were on board.
He says that when he realized that he had received a fatal blow to the head of Chhota Mowada, he had followed the driver with his parents. His lawyer, Laurent Keynes, told AFP: “It’s a shock to see someone responsible for a child’s death.
“It simply came to our notice then. Mowda’s parents, who left Iraq in 2015 and intended to move to the UK, settled in Belgium after his death, allowing him to live on humanitarian grounds.
He will be represented at the two-day hearing by three lawyers and is backed by a civic activist group that has mobilized support for international celebrities. Roger Waters of the rock group Punk Floyd has appealed to Belgians to attend the hearing and murmur: “Don’t let them shake the death of this child under a carpet.”
In a video message, British filmmaker Ken Loach demanded, “What circumstances justify shooting in a crowded van?” Human rights activists in Belgium say such horrific deaths are revealed by the possibility of what they consider to be “dehumanization” of migrants and “criminalization” of migration. Cooperation between police measures and French and Belgian services will also be discussed. On the night between May 16 and 17, 2018, when the refugee van left Grande Santhi in northern France, French investigators boarded a GPS tracker.