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BRUSSELS

Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland

Belgian Mourad Laachraoui, the younger brother of one of the Brussels airport bombers, has won gold in the European Taekwondo Championships and will compete in this summer's Olympics.

Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Mourad Laachraoui was left 'devastated' by his brother's actions. Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP

Mourad Laachraoui, brother of Najim Laachraoui, beat Spaniard Jesus Tortosa 6-3 in the -54kg final in the Swiss city of Montreux on Thursday night.
   
A silver medallist at the Summer Universiades in 2015, the 21-year-old has qualified for the Rio Games in August.
   
Najim Laachraoui, 24, was one of the two suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport on March 22nd, while a third attacker blew himself up at on a metro train, with the two attacks killing 32 people.
   
Two days after the Brussels attacks, Mourad Laachraoui said he had been “devastated” by what had happened. He said he not had contact with his older brother since the latter left for Syria in February 2013.
   
“You don't choose your family,” he told a press conference at the time, adding not to draw “any parallels” with his family who were trying to “turn the page”.
   
“I have no idea why my brother turned (to terrorism). We didn't see any change when he became radicalized,” he said, explaining that his sporting career had distanced them over the years.
   
“It's crazy, they were born into the same family, they received the same education and one turns everything white and the other black, even very, very black,” Mourad Laachraoui's lawyer said after the attacks.
   
“He's not responsible for the actions of his brother.”

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TRAVEL

Swiss solar plane preps for Brussels flight

A Swiss solar-powered aircraft is set to fly to Brussels as early as next week in what would be its first international flight, the project manager said on Thursday.

Swiss solar plane preps for Brussels flight
MATTH1/Wikipedia (File)

Switzerland’s solar-powered aircraft is expected to attempt its first international flight as early as next week to Brussels, the team managing the project said on Thursday.

“Solar Impulse, the zero fuel airplane, will attempt to fly to Brussels Airport as the destination for its first international flight,” said the team in a statement.

“The airplane will be ready for take-off as from 2 May 2011 and will depart just as soon as the weather permits,” it added.

Solar Impulse made history in July 2010 as the first manned plane to fly around the clock on the sun’s energy.

But an international flight involving a foreign airport will be a “big technical challenge,” acknowledged the team.

Months of preparations have gone into planning and training for the task, and an entire team of experts, including meteorological specialists, route planners, air traffic controllers, engineers and IT specialists have been roped in.

“Flying an aircraft like Solar Impulse through European airspace to land at an international airport is an incredible challenge for all of us, and success depends on the support we receive from all the authorities concerned,” said Andre Borschberg, who piloted July’s flight.