Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taxi drivers block access to Brussels airport over police shooting

Cabs were parked across the A201 motorway from late on Tuesday until 0500 (0300 GMT) on Wednesday as rumours spread that the driver had been killed.

But his injury was minor and he was released from hospital into custody.

A policeman had reportedly opened fire to stop the taxi as it drove away with him clinging to the bonnet.

The policeman who fired was also detained as investigators and prosecutors in Brussels carried out investigations, Belgium's Le Soir newspaper reports.

 Pepper spray

Police were making routine checks for unlicensed taxis when they signalled the driver to stop around 1900 on Tuesday, according to another newspaper, La Derniere Heure.

Far from stopping, the 28-year-old driver accelerated, prompting a policeman to jump on the bonnet.

After being carried along for 2km (1.2 miles), he fired at least once into the dash-board, forcing the driver to stop.

A brawl reportedly followed in which the policeman fired another shot, grazing the driver's shoulder.

Some 200 drivers joined the protest which followed and a second driver was arrested as he tried to "avenge" his colleague.

At 0230, police wielding truncheons and using pepper spray tried to clear the motorway but the stand-off only ended after negotiations involving a trade union representative.

La Derniere Heure notes that unlicensed taxi drivers have been a problem at the airport for years.

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