Police in Belgium have announced the arrests of three men in connection with the brutal murder of a 42-year-old gay man in the city of Beveren.
The Belgian newspaper The Standard reports that the victim, identified only as David P., was discovered by a biker in a Beveren park on the morning of March 6. An autopsy later revealed that he had been beaten to death, and a subsequent investigation turned up evidence that he had gone to meet a date he’d met on a gay dating app.
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Police also linked the crime to multiple suspects, including one 17-year-old male connected to a group of so-called “gay bashers,” a group that boasts about luring gay men to isolated locations via social media and dating apps, then beating them. The suspect in question turned himself in to police on Sunday. He subsequently identified two other suspects, 17 and 16-years-old, who have also been questioned by police.
In the Belgian legal system, a juvenile judge will preside over the case involving the three teens, as they are all minors. However, should the judge decide that the killing was premeditated, motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, or both, he can turn the case over to a criminal court which will sentence the three teenagers as adults.
Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo took to Twitter to condemn the crime and offer condolences to the family of the victim.
Ik ben zwaar geschokt door de extreme homohaat in Beveren. Dit is echt verschrikkelijk.
Mijn diep medeleven aan de familie en vrienden van het slachtoffer.
Justitie moet nu zijn werk doen. Maar laat één ding duidelijk zijn: we zullen in ons land dit geweld nooit aanvaarden.
— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) March 8, 2021
“I am deeply shocked by the extreme homophobia in Beveren,” he tweeted. “This is really awful. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Justice must now do its job. But let one thing be clear: we will never accept this violence in our country.”