A knife-wielding man who killed a policeman and injured another was known to authorities before he carried out his attack.
According to Belgian authorities, a knife-wielding man who killed a policeman and wounded another in Brussels was on an anti-terror watch list.
Federal prosecutors judge Eric Van der Sypt on Friday said the suspect, Yassine M – born in 1990 in Brussels, carried out the attack around the city’s Gard du Nord station after evening rush hour. Thursday.
One of the officers, identified as 29-year-old Thomas M, was stabbed in the throat and died shortly afterwards.
The second 23-year-old officer underwent surgery for a wound in his right arm and is out of danger.
The suspect, who served six years in prison for “common law violations” from 2013 to 2019, went to the police station earlier on Thursday to express hatred towards them.
Tim De Wolf, head of the Brussels prosecutor’s office, said the man made “incoherent remarks” at the station.
De Wolf said: “He talked about his hatred of the police and demanded psychological care.
Officials said Yassine M was taken by officers to the psychiatric emergency room of a Brussels hospital, but was not arrested or detained because he did not meet the standards for involuntary conduct.
“He volunteered,” De Wolf said, explaining that police left the suspect in the hospital under the care of nurses.
“The police then contacted the hospital again to check if the person was being kept under observation. It turned out that he had already left the hospital,” the Brussels prosecutor’s office said.
Yassine is on a list created by the Belgian Observatory, the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM), which monitors “extremism”.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo posted a message of condolences to the family and friends of the officer who died.
“Our police officers risk their lives every day to keep our citizens safe,” he said. “Today’s tragedy proves it once again.”
After the stabbing, Yassine was almost immediately shot and wounded by another policeman who rushed to the scene.
His condition was not disclosed, but authorities said he remained hospitalized on Friday and could not be questioned.
But he will now face charges of “murder and attempted murder in the context of terrorism”, Van der Sypt said.
Authorities have been criticized for not arresting the suspect when he threatened police.
Brussels prosecutor’s spokeswoman Sarah Durant said procedures stipulate that he must be taken to hospital by police because he has requested psychological help.