In the night between May 6th and 7th 2006 five skinheads, coming from De Kastelein, a known extreme right cafÃ© in West Flanders, beat up RaphaÃ«l Mensah, a fifty year old Parisian artist of Gabonese descent, and his thirty seven year old Belgian friend Alain Bouillon. Bouillon was heavily wounded and Mensah is now lying in a coma. According to Bouillon â€œthe skinheads werenâ€™t after money, they went after us because my friend has the wrong skin colourâ€. In fact, according to Belgian French-language La DerniÃ¨re Heure, Mensahâ€™s wallet was recovered on the crime scene with the 150 euros he carried on him still in it.
On May 11th, in an Antwerp street very close to where I used to live, an 18-year old man, Hans Van Themsche, went on a killing spree. His first victim, 46-year old Sonhul KoÃ§, a Turkish woman who was sitting on a park bench reading a book, was heavily wounded. Van Themsche had shot her in the back from a distance of six meters (6.5 yards).
The second and third victims were both killed. They were a 24-year old Malinese woman called Oulemata Niangadou who worked as an au pair and the little Belgian girl she was looking after, two year old Luna. Van Themsche had spotted Oulemata and Luna walking down the street, he passed them, turned around and fired at them, in theirs backs, from point blank range. When he was later questioned about his motive for killing the little girl, he is reported to have said: â€œShe was in the wrong place at the wrong timeâ€. In all it took Van Themsche just four minutes to destroy three lives. He was stopped by a policeman who arrived at the scene and shot Van Themsche, apparently a willing target since he shouted â€œjust shoot meâ€, in the stomach. Van Themsche is now in the hospital, but he will survive.