Friday 18 October 2019

Liege Christmas attacks: Elderly woman becomes fifth victim of Belgian killer Nordine Amrani

Bruno Waterfield

THE DEATH toll from the Liege grenade and gun attack on Christmas shoppers rose to five after a 75-year old woman died of injuries inflicted by Nordine Amrani during the murderous rampage.

Two young men remain on the critical list and 20 more people are still in hospital following Tuesday's attack in the Belgian city.

The brother of Amrani's wife, Marie-Hélene Perrin Balon, said she had kept her marriage to the convicted drug dealer and illegal guns trafficker a secret from her family.

"I saw this gentleman Amrani once. I told him that I disapproved of their union, and that he should not expect to enter our family," said Charles Perrin Balon.

Ms Balon is distressed and currently in hiding with relatives. "She is a nurse, whose job is to help people, to relieve their pain. It is very difficult to understand why her husband did this. Apparently, there was no indication. The reasons are hidden, she is very shocked," he said.

The cleaning woman murdered by Amrani before he went on his killing spree on Place Saint Lambert, the heart of Liege's shopping district, has been named as Antoniette "Tania" Racano 49, a mother of two. It is not known why she was killed, by a bullet to the head.

After murdering Mrs Racano on Tuesday morning Amrani went on to kill four others, a 15 year old boy, Mehdi Belhadj, Gabriel Leblonk, 17 months, Pierre Geronville, 17, and the unnamed 75 year old woman.

Amrani's lawyer said that he launched the attack because he knew that he was going to be sent back to prison and had a "grudge against society".

The Belgian, of Moroccan origin, was on parole and been summoned to police, where he feared being arrested and being returned to prison because his car number plate had been seen at the scene of an "immoral act".

The Belgian government will announce an inquiry on Thursday after an intense national debate over why Amrani had been released two years early from prison in 2010 on arms and drugs charges. His release had involved plea bargaining and partial acquittal for an illegal armoury of dozens of weapons and 9,500 rounds of ammunition.

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