A sentence of life imprisonment has been handed down to Hans Van Themsche, the first person in Belgium to be convicted on a new charge of racially motivated murder.
The teenage far-right sympathiser was found guilty of killing a black woman and the white toddler she was babysitting. He was also sentenced for the attempted murder of a Turkish woman in the same shooting spree.
The 19-year-old admitted wanting to kill foreigners. According to policy testimony, he blamed
black people and other minorities for teasing he got at school.
The maximum life term has been hailed as a clear message against racism in Belgium.
An uncle of the murdered nanny from Mali believes the sentence could help in accepting what had happened.
“It is not easy, but we are holding on and we will get there,” he said.
A lawyer representing Van Themsche’s victims also welcomed the sentence.
“It is not really a surprise. It is a comfort for my clients to know that they come from another country, they don’t know Belgium… It is a comfort to know that this things are not accepted in Belgium,” he said.
The murders in May 2006 stunned the country.
The bloodshed occured in the post city of Antwerp – the stronghold of the far-right Vlaams Belang party.
Amid the shock and mourning, it emerged that members of Van Themsche’s family belonged to the group.