A BELGIAN police officer who shot dead a two-year-old migrant girl during a high-speed chase in 2018 has been sentenced in court.
Victor-Manuel Jacinto Gonclaves was given a one year suspended sentence for “manslaughter doe lack of foresight or precaution” following his conviction for fatally wounding two-year-old Kurdish migrant Mawda Shawri in 2018.
The infant girl was travelling in the back of a van alongside dozens of other migrants when police began to pursue the vehicle in the Belgian region of Wallonia – south of Brussels. While trying to shoot the front left tire of the van, Gonclaves missed his shot and struck two-year-old Mawda – who died of her injuries shortly after.
The case sparked outrage in Belgium and across Europe, and prosecutors initially sought a two-year custodial prison sentence for Gonclaves. However, the court found that the 48-year-old officer could receive a suspended sentence due to the “absence of a criminal record and the sincere regrets he expressed” over the tragic incident.
Two Iraqi-Kurdish men have also faced trial over the incident, with a 21-year old jailed for four years after it was proven he had been the van’s driver. A 28-year-old was also accused of transporting the migrants, but the case against him collapsed due to lack of evidence. The case highlighted the dangerous conditions endured by many migrants in Europe.
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