Wednesday, December 14, 2011
"Belgian" killer is actually Moroccan
Moroccan Nordine Amrani launched his attack on Christmas shopping crowds in Leige's busy Place Saint Lambert because he knew that he was going to be sent back to prison and he had a grudge against society. Amrani, 33, killed a 45-year old woman before carrying out his grenade and assault rifle attack that killed three people in Liege, including a 17-month old baby boy. The Moroccan was on parole and had been summoned to police, where he feared being arrested and being returned to prison because his car number plate had been seen at the scene of an immoral act. With previous convictions and jail terms for possession of arms, he would have known that the police would have raided his properties where he had a new stash of heavy weapons, including grenades and assault rifles. The Belgian justice authorities are facing questions because Amrani had been released early from prison on arms and drugs charges. His release had involved plea bargaining and partial acquittal for his armoury of dozens of weapons and 9,500 rounds of ammunition. Before his suicide attack on Christmas shoppers, he killed a woman who worked as a cleaner for a an unnamed neighbor. He is said to have asked her into his lock-up, a deserted and tatty house and garage property where he did not live, on the pretext of offering her work. He killed her with a shot to the head. Prosecutors have confirmed that Amrani committed suicide after the attacks by shooting himself in the forehead with his revolver after he had hurled three grenades and sprayed shoppers with rounds from his FN-FAL assault rifle. The attack has led to a heated national debate in the country about gun laws and why he was considered safe to be released, having been sentenced in 2008 to 58 months in prison for illegal possession of ten firearms. A 17-month-old baby boy became the fourth victim after dying in hospital despite undergoing hours of emergency treatment. Gabriel was in the arms of his mother when he was hit by a bullet in the back of the head. The child and his parents were at the bus stop just below the walkway where the shooter opened fire. Amrani had been due to attend a police interview but never showed up. Instead he left his apartment armed with a FN-FAL automatic rifle, a handgun and up to a dozen grenades carried in a backpack. He drove the five-minute journey from his apartment building the Residence Belvedere and parked his white van in Place St Lambert. He walked onto a raised walkway above a bus stop where lunchtime shoppers were thronging for the opening of a Christmas market. From his 15ft high vantage point he lobbed three hand grenades towards a busy bus shelter before opening fire on the crowd. A 15-year-old boy died instantly while the baby of 17 months and a 17-year-old boy succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Five people are still fighting for their lives, including a 75-year old woman who was initially declared dead on arrival at hospital. As schoolchildren lay flowers in a shattered bus shelter, shocked young Leigeois pointed to bullet scarred walls and wept. "It is awful to be here, to see the wreckage and to think that I come here all the time to shop and meet friends. Everyone comes here, it could have been me, anyone" said Christine Collard, 16.