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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
Brussels protest over MP3 murder
Police said 80,000 people joined the silent demonstration

About 80,000 people have taken part in a silent march in Brussels to protest over the murder of a teenager who refused to give thieves his MP3 player.

Many marchers laid flowers at the central station in tribute to Joe Van Holsbeeck, 17, who died on 12 April.

Despite the release by police of CCTV footage, two suspects remain at large.

It was the largest protest the country has seen since 1996, when there was a wave of public emotion and anger over paedophile killer Marc Dutroux.

Joe was with a friend at the busy central station when he was stabbed five times in the chest after refusing to hand over his digital music player to muggers.

A photo of Joe Van Holsbeeck in a tribute at his school
At this funeral, the victim's coffin was carried by boy scouts

The rush-hour death shocked Belgium.

The murdered boy's parents held hands as they walked at the heart of the procession.

They had requested a silent march without banners or signs of political affiliation.

Fears of racial tension have been high as the killers appear from the CCTV footage to be of North African origin but his mother appealed for calm.

"Don't ask me to hate all Arabs," she said in an interview with Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure.

"The youths that killed my son are thugs but don't generalise."

Some Muslim religious leaders in Brussels called for people to turn in the suspects if they knew them.

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