Brussels Bombings Trial: Verdict Reveals Revised Death Toll and Impact on Survivors

2023-07-25 17:36:00

When we drew up the human toll of the attacks of March 22, 2016 in Zaventem and Maelbeek, the commonly accepted figure was 32 dead: 16 dead at the airport and 16 dead in the metro station.

It will now be necessary to review this figure and establish it as follows following the judgment delivered on Tuesday by the Assize Court: 18 dead in Zaventem and 17 dead in Maelbeek.

Ten of the people injured during this disastrous day of March 22, 2016 have since died. For the federal prosecution, the cause of death of four of these missing could be one of the consequences of the attacks. They were two men and a woman who were present at the airport on March 22, 2016 and a man who was on the metro trains in Maelbeek. The prosecution had therefore requested, for these 4 victims, a reclassification of attempted murder in a terrorist context as murder in a terrorist context. The jury finally accepted this requalification for three of them.

Brussels bombings trial: Abdeslam, Abrini and four other defendants found guilty of terrorist killings

Three victims of Zaventem

Mathieu Fischer had only been saved because he had been protected from the shrapnel of the bomb by other victims closer to the impacts. He had developed intense post-traumatic stress. Tinnitus kept him from sleeping more than three hours a night. On April 18, 2021, unable to take it anymore, he ended his life. He was 53 years old.

Alongside these 35 murders, the main defendants of the assize trial were also found guilty of 526 attempted murders in a terrorist context in Zaventem and 165 attempted murders in a terrorist context in Maelbeek.

Shanti De Corte had not been affected by the impacts of the bombs at the airport from where, with the pupils of her class, she was to leave for a school trip to Rome. But, already fragile, she had not been able to overcome this ordeal. She had been hospitalized for a long time in psychiatry. She had chosen euthanasia and left on May 7, 2022. She was 23 years old.

Few elements had filtered about Yves De Coster, who was 58 years old during the attacks of March 22, 2016. There was also no civil action against him. The jury must have felt that there was too much doubt and did not follow the federal prosecutor’s request for reclassification, contrary to what it decided for the other victims.

A victim in Maelbeek

The case of Xavier Legrand is somewhat different. He was present in the metro on March 22, 2016. He was then undergoing advanced treatment to treat cancer. The explosion had caused him significant wounds. To treat them, he had been forced to stop taking his cancer drug because it was causing bleeding. This suspension had a negative influence on the evolution of his cancer. He died on October 28, 2017 at the age of 49.

Alongside these 35 murders, the main defendants of the assize trial were also found guilty of 526 attempted murders in a terrorist context in Zaventem and 165 attempted murders in a terrorist context in Maelbeek.

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