Suspect in SkyTrain hate crime facing separate charge for assault on child
Published Thursday, December 7, 2017 7:02PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, December 7, 2017 7:05PM PST
The man accused of hitting and screaming racial threats at a teenage transit rider appeared in Vancouver provincial court in red prison sweats Thursday afternoon. Pierre Belzan looked disheveled and mildly distraught as he appeared before a judge.
Belzan was arrested by Transit Police Monday after a 911 call from Noor Fadel, an 18 year-old Canada Line passenger who was apparently targeted for wearing a hijab.
“In Arabic he kept repeating such horrific words to me. He was telling me he was going to kill me, he was going to kill all Muslims,” Fadel told reporters Wednesday. “He told me to go back to my country. At this point I was in complete shock.”
A Good Samaritan intervened after Belzan allegedly slapped and grabbed Fadel, forcing him off the teen and helping her through a panic attack until police arrived.
CTV News has now learned this is the second time Belzan has been charged with assault in connection with an incident on SkyTrain. In May, Belzan was once again on the Canada Line in Vancouver when he allegedly swung a heavy mesh bag into the legs of a 10-year-old girl who’d boarded the train with her sister and Filipino parents. Officials say the girl’s mother screamed at Belzan and called police.
Belzan had been scheduled to make a court appearance on that assault charge Tuesday morning, but was arrested at Vancouver International Airport Monday night shortly after the confrontation with Fadel. A photo she snapped of Belzan shows him wearing a black leather jacket and gloves and carrying what appears to be a garment bag or small suitcase.
Transit Police say those photos helped operations staff, who “were able to track, by video, the suspect boarding another outbound train, and spotted him disembarking at Vancouver International Airport.”
Belzan was born in Algeria but immigrated to Vancouver in 1993. He now has a Canadian passport and addressed the judge at provincial court in English. He was originally scheduled to apply for bail Wednesday, but that was delayed to Thursday and has now been put over to Monday, Dec.11.
Transit Police call the incident with Fadel “an unprovoked hate crime.” They have forwarded additional video evidence to Crown counsel and say they anticipate a sexual assault charge could also be laid against Belzan for allegedly trying to force Noor’s head to his crotch.
A search of court records shows Belzan does not have a criminal history in B.C. prior to the May assault charge involving the child. The 46 year-old, who has no fixed address, remains in custody pending the results of his bail hearing.
MORE: In addition to the details in my story from yesterday, I've just learned UBC RCMP have a file on Belzan for loitering on campus last month. He left without incident and was not charged. @CTVVancouver https://t.co/r3LIOyVm2J— Penny Daflos (@PennyDaflos) December 8, 2017