The two victims were shot in the head and died on the spot. The man managed to escape by foot, but could be arrested in the Warande Park in the centre of Brussels.
"The man pointed a gun at a building", a witness told reporters. "Two policemen next pointed their guns at him." They forced the man to lie on the ground and were able to arrest him. When he was arrested, the man cried out "let me die, I paid my taxes."
The 47-year-old man comes from Iran. In the nineties, he was granted a legal permit to stay in Belgium on humanitarian grounds. The man is no stranger to the police. He was convicted in a case of assault and battery in 2005 and is known for his aggressive behaviour.
It soon became clear that the suspect was indeed the man who carried out the shooting earlier during the day, as he was recognised by people who witnessed the shooting inside the court. The man later confessed the double murder when he was being questioned.
Gunman had a personal conflict with the judge
According to Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck (Flemish Christian democrat, photo), the gunman had a personal conflict with the judge. He had been ordered by the judge to leave his house several times as he had problems to pay the rent.
The man confessed to investigators that his motivation was revenge. "Three years ago, a court order forced the man to leave his apartment in Brussels", explains Jean-Marc Meilleur of the Brussels judicial authorities. "Since then, he had no permanent address anymore and nothing was heard from him."
This morning at 9 a.m., one minute's silence was observed in court houses across the country to commemorate the victims.
Key ministers in the federal government met this morning to discuss possible security measures for the small-claims courts. However, general measures will not be taken. "These small courts have to stay accessible for our citizens," argues Prime Minister Yves Leterme. However, small security measures in certain courts are not being excluded.