Man held after Belgian courtroom slayings

Security in judicial buildings in Belgium has long been a source of concern.

Brussels: Belgian police have arrested a suspect after a man pulled a gun during a Brussels court hearing and shot dead a woman judge and court clerk before fleeing, the public prosecutor`s office said on Friday.

"A suspect has been questioned and identified," Jean-Jacques Meilleur, spokesman for the Brussels public prosecutor, said after Thursday`s double murder.

A judicial source said that the suspect was a 47-year-old Iranian man who had been identified by witnesses of the courtroom drama that shook Belgium. He reportedly said he had been motivated by revenge.

The prosecutor`s office would hold a press conference at 0900 GMT.

Police approached the man in a Brussels park on Thursday evening in order to check his identity, but he pulled out a gun and began shooting in the air, the source said.

The man was wounded by police, arrested, and later identified as a suspect in the killings.

On Thursday morning, a man, who had been present throughout the hearing, "pulled out a firearm, a revolver, and fired at the judge and her clerk, killing both," said Jean-Jacques Meilleur, spokesman for the Brussels public prosecutor.

The tribunal had been hearing a family and neighbour dispute case when the shooting happened. The tribunal is close to the imposing Palace of Justice in the heart of the Belgian capital.

The assailant "was briefly pursued by one of the lawyers present but he managed to flee on foot down one of the roads in the area," Meilleur added. A major search was launched for the gunman.

The victims were 60-year-old magistrate Isabelle Brandon and her court clerk Andre Bellemans.

A minute`s silence was observed by judges and lawyers in the Palace of Justice later in honour of their deceased colleagues, with some members of the judiciary visibly shocked at the events.

Security in judicial buildings and prisons in Belgium has long been a source of concern, with many escapes in recent years.

Bureau Report

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