Police arrest suspect for Brussels 'revenge killing'

Magistrates observe a minute of silence in the Palace of Justice in Brussels, 4 June 2010 A minute's silence was observed at the Palais de Justice on Friday

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Belgian police have arrested a 47-year-old man suspected of shooting dead a magistrate and a clerk at a courtroom in Brussels.

The man, reported to be Iranian, confessed to taking revenge after the magistrate ordered his eviction, officials said.

Police arrested the suspect on Thursday evening after they found him firing a gun in a Brussels park.

The man fled the scene of the shooting on foot, triggering a manhunt.

The victims of the shooting have been identified as Judge Isabelle Brandon and her clerk, Andre Bellemans.

'Motivated by vengeance'

They were shot on Thursday morning as they were presiding over a case in a civil tribunal, in a building near the Palais de Justice in Brussels.

Witnesses described a man who had been present throughout the hearing drawing his gun and shooting the victims, before fleeing on foot into sidestreets near the courthouse.

Jean-Marc Meilleur, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutors' office, said the magistrate who was killed had ordered the eviction of the suspect from a house in 2007, following a dispute over rent.

"According to his own statement, he was present in the tribunal, he took out a weapon and he fired on the judge and her clerk," he said.

"He explained that he was motivated by vengeance against the judiciary in general and this justice of the peace in particular."

The suspect was a refugee who had been granted asylum in 2002, he said.

Belgian Interior Minister Annemie Turtelboom thanked authorities for securing "the swift arrest of the alleged culprit".

Magistrates and lawyers at the Palais de Justice observed a minute's silence on Friday in honour of the victims.

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