A 22-year-old Spaniard from Hoboken was arrested by the investigating judge in Antwerp on Thursday. He is suspected of having committed an attack on a restaurant in Wilrijk.
The attack dates from May 3. The emergency services were called just after 4 a.m. to a serious fire in the Madagascar Bowl, a restaurant on the corner of Pieter Van Passenstraat, Valaardreef and Kolonel Slaterplein in Wilrijk. A family with five children who lived above the business became overcome by the smoke and were taken to hospital.
It soon became clear that foul play was involved. Earlier that night, the message “STEP 1” was also graffitied on the windows. The Federal Judicial Police (FGP) Antwerp started an investigation and was able to identify a suspect.
“On Wednesday, the investigating judge ordered the search and arrest of the suspect, a 22-year-old Spaniard from Hoboken,” said spokesperson Kristof Aerts of the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office. “After the arraignment, the man was arrested for deliberate arson in an occupied building at night and criminal organization.” He will appear before the council chamber on Tuesday, which will decide on his further detention. The investigation continues.
The Madagascar Bowl is owned by a well-known name from the drug industry, Khalid I. alias ‘Pakistani’. He is considered part of the close entourage of drug boss Omar ‘Patje Haemers’ G. Khalid I, who was recently sentenced to thirteen years in prison. He is also the manager of the De Kern chip shop in the Heistraat in Wilrijk. Fearing a second attack, Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) had the business closed for two months because the chip shop posed a risk to public safety.