© Manu Scordia

The defendant no one heard

During the night of 16 May 2018, two-year-old Mawda Shawri was killed by a police bullet on the motorway near Mons. This week brings the verdict in the trial meant to identify those responsible for her death.

There are three defendants: the Belgian police officer who fired the fatal bullet, and two young Iraqi men who were in the van. The verdict is expected on Friday 12 February, but the trial will leave vital questions unanswered. Why did police officers and the public prosecutor originally deny that the toddler was killed by a police bullet? Why were the Iraqis treated differently from the police officer during the trial? Why do they risk 10 and 7 years in prison respectively, when the officer only faces a potential one-year suspended penalty? Why were the Iraqis hardly given the chance to speak? And where were the media on the day of their defence in court?

As theatre creators at KVS, we want to bring the story of “the defendant no one heard”: the alleged driver. Not to answer the question of guilt, because that’s not our job, but to bring justice for the humanity that was taken from him. To let his voice be heard in a case where his story was not given the time of day. Maybe he was driving the fugitive van, maybe not. Maybe he is a human trafficker, maybe not. Above all, he is a human in search of a better life. Guilty or not, he has the right to be heard. The right to a fair trial.

This podcast is centred around a re-enactment of the things theatre creators Kristin Rogghe and Marie-Aurore d’Awans observed and noted down during the trial. As citizens who are concerned with the state of justice in our country, they sought a vessel to express what they had experienced.

The run-up to the verdict on 12 February also offers them the momentum to support and underscore the parents’ request for a parliamentary inquiry. There is much that still needs to be brought to light in this case.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION Marie-Aurore d’Awans, Kristin Rogghe and Pauline Beugnies are creating the theatre performance مودة, ça veut dire tendresse [‘Mawda, which means tenderness’] in collaboration with Mawda’s parents. This is a Belgian coproduction by KVS, Maison de la Culture Tournai, Mars- Mons Arts de la scène and Le Rideau de Bruxelles, expected to premiere in autumn of 2021. 

Want to know more? Immerse yourself in Catherine Makereel's interview with Kristin Rogghe and Marie-Aurore d'Awans in which they reflect on other telling ‘details’ from the Mawda trial that have remained undiscussed until now and provide a wider context for the event. 


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