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Belgians Protest Fatal MP3 Robbery

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Some 80,000 demonstrators walked silently through the Belgian capital Sunday to protest the killing of a teenager who refused to give his digital music player to two young robbers.

Police have yet to announce a breakthrough in the case despite nationwide distribution of video images of the suspects who ambushed Joe Van Holsbeeck and a friend on April 12.

The 17-year-old was stabbed to death at the busy Brussels Central train station, a killing that shocked the nation.

``The demonstration is an important signal which I fully back,'' said Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said. ``We will put more effort into combating youth crime.''

Van Holsbeeck's parents had asked for a nonpolitical, silent march, and requested that political parties remain in the background. The march went by the central train station, where protesters laid hundreds of flowers.

Van Holsbeeck's father, Guy, said he was heartened by the show of support.

``There is a lot of emotion and it somewhat soothes our pain,'' he told the VRT television network.

Police estimates said the number of protesters was around 80,000. It was thought to be the biggest protest march since more than 300,000 people in this nation of 10.5 million took part in a 1996 demonstration to protest police handling of a pedophile kidnapping and murder case.
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