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Scores arrested at Brussels protest over black man’s death in police custody

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Police in Belgium have made 116 arrests after a demonstration in Brussels over the death of a young black man who collapsed while in police custody turned violent.

Officers said most of violence took place after a largely peaceful demonstration on Wednesday of about 500 protesters — some holding Black Lives Matter signs — ended in central Brussels.

“A group of demonstrators (50-100 people) remained on the spot and caused various incidents and degradations,” police said, adding that several officers were injured in the clashes.

According to a police statement, protesters threw projectiles, set fires, damaged street furniture and police vehicles. They also smashed a window and a door at a police station.

People shout slogans in the Belgian capital (Francisco Seco/AP)

In all, 116 people were arrested, including 30 minors, and one protester was tended to by ambulance services, police said.

“Justice must bring to court those who have vandalised and have injured five policemen, including a policewoman who is hospitalised,” federal police captain Marc De Mesmaeker told broadcaster RTBF on Thursday.

“This must be done with care, just as the other aspect of the event, the tragic death of Ibrahima, must be treated with care.”

Prosecutors have requested that an investigative judge be appointed following the death of a 23-year-old black man identified by authorities only as IB.

Protesters are blocked by police (Francisco Seco/AP)

The prosecutor’s office said he was arrested on January 9 after he allegedly tried to run away from police who were checking people gathered in the city centre despite Covid-19 restrictions on social gatherings.

He was taken to a police station where he fainted, and then transferred to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the office said.

The prosecutor’s office said Belgium’s Comite P, an independent body overseeing police services, is investigating and a coroner has been appointed to perform a post-mortem as well as toxicology tests.

Belgian media reported the man had started to record police with his phone on Saturday when officers decided to carry out an ID check on him.

The prosecutor’s office said it has seized video surveillance images, from the police station and at the scene of his arrest.

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Africa

Algeria’s energy minister denies Lebanon adulterated fuel crisis

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Algerian Energy Minister Abdelmadjid Attar asserted on Thursday that there was no crisis with Lebanon regarding the shipment of so-called adulterated fuel by the state-owned oil company Sonatrach.

According to Anadolu Agency, this came in Attar’s response to a question asked in the National Assembly.

The minister pointed out that what was known as the Sonatrach case in Lebanon has nothing to do with the national oil company, but instead concerns internal political problems within the Lebanese state.

He added: “We have no problem with Lebanon. Sonatrach’s branch in London has undertaken all the responsibility for what happened and replaced the allegedly adulterated fuel with another shipment.”

READ: It is time for reconciliation between Morocco and Algeria

Attar continued: “The fuel was not adulterated, but it was mixed with sand, therefore the shipment was replaced.”

A few days ago, media in both countries reported news of threats issued by Sonatrach to the Lebanese state-owned electricity company about resorting to international arbitration to obtain its arrears for the fuel shipment.

Neither Sonatrach nor the Algerian Energy Ministry made any immediate comment on the validity of the news.

Since January 2006, Sonatrach has concluded an agreement with the Lebanese Ministry of Energy to supply it with diesel and fuel oil to benefit the state-owned Lebanese electricity company.

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Africa

Libya lost 92% of oil, gas revenues in 2020

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Official statistics have shown that Libya’s oil and gas revenues decreased by 92 per cent last year, as the blockade imposed for months on oil facilities caused the suspension of most export operations.

The Central Bank of Libya announced that the revenues of the year 2020 were estimated at 2.9 billion Libyan dinars ($652 million), compared to 31.4 billion Libyan dinars in 2019.

Libya has been divided for years between two rival administrations, the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and one in the east, where the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar are stationed.

In the oil-rich country, crude oil production and exports are the responsibility of the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), which disagrees with the central bank’s revenue estimations.

Chaos has prevailed in Libya since the outbreak of the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. Thus, energy facilities, the main source of the country’s wealth, have been repeatedly attacked by fighting forces.

READ: Tunisia, Libya discuss strengthening oil sector cooperation

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