Belgian authorities face questions over prisoner release
Belgian authorities faced questions over why a prison inmate, believed to have been radicalised, was let out for a day and used it to kill three people in the city of Liege.
It's also emerged he killed a former associate.
The justice minister, who oversees the prison service, said he felt "responsible" for Tuesday's bloodshed in which two policewomen and a bystander were killed. The attacker was shot dead by police at a nearby school shortly afterward.
"The question of whether this man should have been given leave is striking because he killed three completely innocent people with a wish to kill himself," Koen Geens told RTBF radio.
"I have to examine my own conscience."
Interior Minister Jan Jambon said authorities were still examining the motives of Benjamin Herman, a 31-year-old Belgian drug dealer who had been in jail for years but was let out for two days on Monday to prepare for an eventual release in 2020.
But federal prosecutors said there was evidence that theye were dealing with "terrorist murder".
Herman had shouted "Allahu Akbar", the Muslim affirmation of faith, during his attack and he had had contacts with Islamist radicals in jail in 2016 and early 2017.
He also appeared to have followed online exhortations from Islamic State to stab police officers and use their service weapons to shoot others, prosecutors said.
Officials praised the quick wittedness of the cafe owner outside whose bar Herman had killed the two policewomen, aged 54 and 44. By the time the killer, wielding two police pistols, came in looking for more victims, he had got all his customers into hiding.
Confirming that Herman was also believed to have killed an acquaintance 50 km (30 miles) away on Monday night, Jambon told RTL radio: "There are signs he was radicalised in prison but is it that radicalisation which drove him to commit these acts?
"It could have been because he had nothing to look forward to, because he also killed someone the night before, the guy's psychology and the fact, it seems, he may have been on drugs."
He said that although Herman was flagged up in security reports on possibly violent Islamists in 2016 and early 2017, he had appeared to be something of a fringe figure.Published: by Radio NewsHub