Belgium: Gay man killed at cruising spot
A suspect is being detained by police after a 61-year-old man was found dead at a gay cruising area of a park in the centre of Liège, Belgium.
The victim, named in local press as Jacques Konik, was killed by several blows to the head with a roofer’s hammer.
A report on the French-language news site Rtbf.be says the man arrested by police said he had been seeking vengeance having been raped in the same park in 2011.
On Wednesday, the 35-year-old travelled into Liège from neighbouring Malmedy, one of several trips he had made into the city, travelling to the Parc d’Avroy.
According to the Rtbf.be account, the accused man was propositioned by the deceased, whom he attacked with a hammer before fleeing the scene. Although emergency services were called when he was discovered, the older man died of his injuries in the park.
The younger man is reported to have confessed to a friend, who then alerted police. Flandersnews.be reports that he was said to have been sexually abused in his youth by a gay man.
Mayor Willy Demeyer is said to be preparing a specific action plan to combat homophobia following Mr Jarfi’s killing and had met with the police chief ten days ago. A “zero tolerance” approach to homophobia will be discussed at the next local security council meeting in September.
Interior minister Joëlle Milquet said she was “shocked and concerned” by the killing.
The director of the Centre pour l’égalité des chances, the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunity, Édouard Delruelle said levels of homophobic violence were hard to determine, but would be higher than official figures indicated.
But, he said, from conversations with justice officials and police he believed the incidence of homophobic acts was increasing in Belgium. He told Rtbf.be while it was “horrible to use the word”, there seemed to be an emerging “fashion” for verbal and physical anti-gay abuse.