Trial on the death of 2-year-old Mawda opens today in Belgium

The trial against about the death of Mawda, a 2-year-old Kurdish girl who died in Belgium after police opened fire on a vehicle carrying refugees in 2018, opens today.

On 17 May 2018, a vehicle carrying refugees and going towards the UK was tracked, and as a result of the police fire opened during the pursuit, 2-year-old Kurdish girl Mawda was shot in the head and died.

The trial against about the death of Mawda opens today.

Belgian justice gave its verdict in July 2019, more than two years later. It established that the police who caused the death of little Mawda be tried for "unintentional murder".

A total of three people are being tried in the case: the driver of the truck carrying the refugees, the people smuggler and the police officer who killed a girl.

Mawda's family, lawyer, and the association "#Justice4Mawda" are calling for "deliberate murder" charges.

"It is difficult to characterize as unintentional murder a killing which is the result of police pointing a gun into a moving truck, inserting the bullet and then pressing the trigger," said family lawyer Salma Benkhelifa.

According to the Belgian media, Benkhelifa added: "The entire Belgian immigration policy is partially responsible for this killing."

Stating that they will evaluate the situation that led to the behaviour of the police during the trial, the lawyer noted that the problem should be raised also in parliament and other political arenas. "This police officer is not the only person who has to respond to this death," Benkhelifa said.

Many international well known people from the culture and arts called for justice for Mawda, including British director Ken Loach and British musician and composer George Roger Waters, soloist and bassist of the band Pink Floyd.

In addition, a coat hanger will be installed in front of the Palace of Justice in many cities, especially Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels, Malines and Bruges, as of Monday morning. Those who wish will be able to hang children's clothes here and send messages of solidarity with Mawda's family.