Suspects in Strépy carnival tragedy were on the way home from a night club

More information has been released about the two suspects that were detained in connection with Sunday morning’s tragedy in the Hainaut village of Strépy-Bracquegnies. 6 people were killed and 10 more left with life-threatening injuries after one of the suspects allegedly drove his BMW car at high speed into a group of people that were getting ready to participate in a carnival. The Mons (Hainaut) Judicial Authorities say that both suspects, local men in their 30s, were returning from a night club. Initial test would also indicate that both men had been drinking. An Examining Magistrate will question them today. 

A around 5am on Sunday morning a BMW car drove at speed into a group of Gilles (members of a carnival group) in the Rue des Canadiens in Strépy, a village near to the town of La Louvière. The vehicle failed to stop. However, the police were eventually able to detain the driver of the car and his passenger. One witness told VRT News that victims were dragged hundreds of metres by the car after they had been hit. The Judicial Authorities are currently remaining tight-lipped about the details of what is, for the time being at least, a manslaughter investigation.  

The victims were members of the Les Boute-en-train carnival group from La Louvière. The group numbering between 150 and 200 traditionally pays door on door house visits to villagers in Strépy in the early morning of the first day of the village’s three-day carnival. Sunday morning’s incident happened near to Strépy’s sports hall. The sport hall has been turned into a crisis centre where victims, their families and friends and those that witnessed the carnage can get help and support.

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Under the influence of drink and/drugs?

The two suspects that have been detained were returning home from a night club. Part of the investigation into Sunday morning’s tragic events centres on whether they were under the influence of drink and/or drugs. A terrorist motive of any sort has been ruled out as has the hypothesis that they were travelling at such speed because the police were chasing them.

Speaking in an interview with the Francophone public broadcaster RTBF the Mons Public Prosecutor Christian Henry said that “Initial tests point to the presence of alcohol”.

"The breath test appeared to be positive, but we are still waiting for the definitive result. Blood samples have also been taken to see if other drugs can be traced”.

The incident was first reported to police at around 5:10am on Sunday. A black BMW had crashed at speed into the members of a carnival group. Two police cars went to the scene. A third patrol car found the BMW abandoned in a nearby side street. The driver and his passenger were standing next to the vehicle. Its windscreen was smashed. The Judicial Authorities have opened a manslaughter investigation. Both suspects will be questioned by an Examining Magistrate today.


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