Police unions launch dramatic appeal after Spa shooting incident

NSVP, one of the main police trades unions, has had it with violent incidents against police officers and wants the government to do more to protect them. In the aftermath of the Spa shooting in which a 38-year-old police officer was killed, NSVP spokesman Carmlo Medo is calling for a harsher approach of offenders.  

Last weekend, some Dutchmen were denied access to a pub in the centre of Spa, which triggered a brawl. Police were called to the scene after one man had shown a weapon. The Dutchmen got into a taxi and drove off, but the car was intercepted by police. When these made the car stop to carry out a check, one man got out and shot the police officer in the head. The victim, a father of three, died on the spot. A suspect was apprehended later on Sunday.

It's the third deadly incident with police officers in the Liège region in three months' time.  Police have had it and are pressing for a tougher approach of aggressors resorting to violence. 

We have had it. We want a tougher approach for those using violence against us

Police officers were not only sad, but also angry: "Policy makers are always expressing their support and sympathy, but we want concrete action to stop this violence. We have had it," says Carlo Medo of the NSVP. More concretely, he is asking politicians to work out harsher punishments to give a clear signal. "If someone hits us, the reaction should be hard."

Police unions are demanding that offenders get the maximum punishment. "They should always be sent to court, and receive the maximum punishment", says Vincent Houssin of police union VSOA, who reproaches the government an approach which is too soft at present. "Offenders targetting police are often not punished, or not hard enough."

Police unions want to meet Interior Minister Jan Jambon in the short term. They are serious about their demands: "Our people have had it. It won't take long before they will down tools."  

Aftermath: two other suspects apprehended

Today, two important witnesses of the shooting reported to the police. The two persons also sat in the taxi which the Dutchmen had taken. Police also managed to arrest the two other suspects who were still on the run. This happened in the Netherlands; it is not clear whether and when the suspects would be extradited to Belgium.

The questioning of the first suspect, a Dutchman in his thirties who was apprehended on Sunday, continued today. The questioning had started yesterday, but was difficult as the man was under influence of alcohol and/or drugs, it is said.