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Sunday, September 27, 1998 Published at 04:13 GMT 05:13 UK

World: Europe

Belgian minister resigns over death scandal

Protesters have been calling for Mr Tobback's resignation

The Belgian Interior Minister, Louis Tobback, has said he will go ahead with his decision to resign following the death of a young Nigerian woman, Samira Adamu, who was being deported from the country.

Peter Biles reports on the public outrage
Mr Tobback originally presented his resignation on Thursday, but was asked to reconsider by the government, who said he was not personally responsible for her death.

The 20 year-old asylum-seeker lapsed into a coma and died on Tuesday after a pillow was put over her face to restrain her as police tried to force her aboard a plane. The two police officers involved have been charged with assault.

Several thousand people attended a memorial service for Ms Adamu on Saturday in the Belgian capital, Brussels.

Second interior minister to resign

[ image: Louis Tobback said he took full responsibility]
Louis Tobback said he took full responsibility
Mr Tobback, who is also the vice prime minister, has only been in his post for five months.

He is the second interior minister to resign this year in the wake of a police scandal.

Following Ms Adamu's death, Belgium has suspended the deportation of asylum-seekers.

The government has also ordered an investigation into the incident, which was filmed by police.

Death sparks protests

The case provoked widespread protests against the Belgian authorities.

[ image: Demonstrators entered the Belgium parliament building]
Demonstrators entered the Belgium parliament building
On Wednesday, protesters gathered outside the hospital in Brussels where the woman was treated before she died.

At another demonstration, protesters demanded the resignation of Mr Tobback.

The Belgian Committee against Expulsions also called on Mr Tobback to step down.

Correspondents say the government wanted Mr Tobback to continue as minister because of a number of important issues he would have to deal with in the coming months.

He is also said to be central for the political balance of Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene's four-party coalition government.

Marriage fears

The Nigerian woman had earlier strongly resisted four attempts to expel her.

She fled Nigeria last March and applied for asylum because her family was forcing her to marry a 65-year-old man, who already had three other wives.

But a statement from Mr Tobback said her application "... was rejected because it was considered unfounded".

The statement added that the procedure for expulsions had been followed and the use of pillows was allowed.

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