Riots in Brussels after death of black man in police custody

Rioters set a barricade on fire after a protest in demand for justice in the case of Ibrahim, 23, who died on 09 January, in Brussels, Belgium, 13 January 2021. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

Hundreds of people rioted in Brussels on Wednesday night over the death a 23-year-old man in police custody at the weekend.

Police said about 500 people gathered Wednesday close to Brussels-North police station over the death of a person identified in Belgian media as Ibrahima B. He was arrested on Saturday evening after fleeing police who were checking on a group suspected of violating local coronavirus measure, Belgian media reported.

Officials say he lost consciousness after being taken to a police station and was transported to the hospital, where he died at 20:22 just over an hour after his arrest.

According to lawyer Alexis De Swaef, who represents the family, the police left Ibrahima unconscious on the floor for more than five minutes.

The reasons for his death remain unclear but a police oversight body has opened an investigation, according to the Brussels public prosecutor’s office.

Belgian Interior Minister, Annelies Verlinden, condemned Wednesday’s events and sought to assure the public over the investigation.

“This is, of course, totally unacceptable,” Verlinden told VRT NWS. “Vandalism, arson, throwing stones at the police. Totally unheard of.”

(Alexandra Brzozowski,

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