A cyclist in Belgium who allegedly used his knee to knock a five-year old child out of his way on a snow-covered path could face up to one year in prison, according to a report in Het Nieuwsblad.
The newspaper’s report contains video of the incident, which happened on Christmas Day, shot by the child’s father and posted to Facebook, although it subsequently appears to have been removed from the social network.
The incident reportedly happened close to the Baraque Michel inn near Liege, with the surrounding countryside being a popular tourist destination and one of the highest points of the country.
The video shows the girl, named Neïa and wearing a red snowsuit, walking with her mother and another child when a cyclist on a cyclo-cross bike appears from behind them and shouts a warning, his left knee apparently moving out as he passes the child, who is knocked to the ground.
The rider, aged 61, presented himself to police on Sunday following a witness appeal and reportedly faces up to a year in jail for intentional assault and battery to a minor.
Prosecutor Vanessa Clérin said: “He was interrogated and subsequently received a summons to appear before the correctional court in February.”
When interviewed by police, he insisted that he had not pushed the child out of the way on purpose and indeed had been unaware he had hit her, Clérin said.
Het Nieuwsblad said that the cyclist called Neïa’s parents to give his version of events and urge them to retract their complaint.
The girl’s father, Patrick Mpasa, a soldier, said: “He asked us to withdraw the complaint, but showed no regret for what he did.
“What’s more, he accused me of being aggressive. He claimed that he had not seen that Neïa had fallen, that he would otherwise have stopped … I have the impression that he thinks it is normal.”
He continued: “A lot of people tell me that I should have beat up that cyclist, but I didn’t want to heat things up even more in front of my children, in front of the other passers-by. I don’t want a witch hunt, just an apology.”
He said that the fall had resulted in Neïa experiencing pain in her back and wrists.
“She fell on her forearms,” her father said. “At first we were afraid that she had broken something, but fortunately that is not the case. She does ask herself questions: she said that this man is a bad guy. Why did he do that?”
The cyclist has been summonsed to appear before a criminal court in February.