Mawada was killed in May 2018 during a high-speed car chase between a police car and the van in which she and her parents were being transported, along with other migrants | Photo: Screenshot from Twitter
Mawada was killed in May 2018 during a high-speed car chase between a police car and the van in which she and her parents were being transported, along with other migrants | Photo: Screenshot from Twitter

A Belgian policeman shot at a car transporting migrants during a chase in 2018, killing a two-year-old Kurdish girl. The man has now been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The policeman’s lawyer announced that the policeman had been charged with involuntary manslaughter on Thursday, according to the press agency AFP. The trial is expected to start before the end of the year.

The police officer shot a bullet which ended up fatally wounding a little girl during a high-speed car chase across Belgium of a van containing migrants.

“He received a letter in the post with notification of the charge in December,” explained his lawyer Me Laurent Kennes, who lashed out at the investigating magistrate, saying it was a procedural irregularity. “It was for prosecutors to do the indictment,” Kennes told the news agency AFP.

The lawyer confirmed the likelihood of a trail before the end of the year.

Two other suspects in pre-trial custody

The shooting took place during the night of May 16, 2018 on a motorway in the French-speaking region of Belgium, Wallonia, just south of the capital Brussels. The van transporting around 30 migrants was traveling from Grande-Synthe in the north of France and was trying to escape a police car.

When the van driver refused to pull over, according to the officer’s account, one of the policemen drew his gun and aimed through the window of their car at the “left tire” whilst they were overtaking the van. But at that point, according to reports, the police car swerved suddenly and the bullet was misdirected; ending up making contact with the cabin of the van, where the little girl, Mawda, was sitting behind the driver with her parents. The bullet hit her head and she died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Driver and suspected smuggler in custody

The police officer who fired the bullet was, according to his lawyer, “devastated” and was not detained. Two other suspects are however in pre-trial custody: the driver of the van and the suspected smuggler who loaded the migrants, mostly Kurds from Iraq, on board.

The driver was extradited from the UK in April 2019 and the suspected smuggler was extradited from the Netherlands in the autumn, according to media reports. Both suspects are Iraqi and have been charged with “malicious obstruction of traffic with aggravating circumstances” and “armed rebellion” reported AFP. The ‘arm’ in this context is the van which hit the police car during the chase.

This article was translated from the French original by Emma Wallis.
 

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