Sunday, February 10, 2013

News and links, week 6

  • Aviation Week has some photos of Belgian A109s getting shipped from Melsbroek military airport near Brussels to Sévaré in Mali. The helicopters will provide medevac services to combat troops fighting Islamist rebels in Northern Mali.
  • Marc Dutroux, Belgium's most infamous killer, has launched a bid for early release (Reuters).  While cops are being pulled from vacation to provide security detail for Dutroux, officials have declared that the chance of the appeal being granted is as good as zero.
  • In a recent review, Rogert Ebert praises Rust and Bone (French: De rouille et d'os), a drama film starring Belgian leading man Matthias Schoenaerts opposite Marion Cotillard.
  • Employees at six Belgian Colruyt stores discover a total of 66 kg (145 lbs) of cocaine hidden in banana crates. (


  1. A lot of anger existed amongst people about the Dutroux case. People said it was a waste of money to take him to Brussels instead of letting the judge travel to prison (which Dutroux would have agreed with) and that it is a slap in the face of the victims and relatives of the victims. I haven't closely followed the entire case even though I live not that far from the courthouse. However...

    To take Dutroux to Brussels and have the hearing, assign him a lawyer, etc... was the only right thing to do. We live in a country with a clear penalty code and good human rights record. An honest trial is essential in that. If we deny the right to a trial, protest or lawyer on random basis, we throw overboard one of the basics of our justice system. Every person has the right to a fair trial, even if it is Dutroux.

    The people lamenting about this have to ask themselves the following:
    1) do they prefer to live in a state where sentences are given randomly without a proper trial and right to defense? The day they would end up in court they probably will appreciate the rules are strictly followed and no random sentences are given.
    2) If Dutroux was not given this trial, it would just offer his lawyer the opportunity to file a complaint based on violation of procedure. This would only cause a lengthy courtcase and give Dutroux some extra arguments in his defense. By following the rules you assure his lawyer cannot benefit from procedure errors.
    3) The odds Dutroux will ever be released are very slim, and certainly an early release is almost impossible given how serious the crimes have been. So why do people make such a hassle about this? In our state with proper legal system every prisoner has the right to apply for early release, even if they know the judge is almost certainly going to reject it. By still following the normal procedures, you assure the defense of Dutroux cannot use failure of following procedures as an extra reason to file complaints. Doing this trial as per the rules thus makes sure no more time is wasted than necessary. Or do people prefer procedure errors being used by the lawyer to have the process starting again? I doubt the family of the victims would want this case to last any day longer than necessary. So just follow the procedures, for the sake of human rights, the right of a fair trial, etc ; and realise Dutroux is not going to be released anytime soon anyway. By following the normal legal procedures you actually assure he cannot file a complaint and make the case last longer than necessary, and you don't give him the tempting option of getting extra media attention.

    We should be glad to live in a country with common law, where every individual has the right to a fair trial, to be defended in court, and appeal. Dutroux won't be released anyway, but for the sake of every non-psychopath and citizen that has to appear in court, it is important to uphold our legal system as it is. The day the people who complain face a courtcase (for example because of financial disputes, disputes with employer, divorce cases, ...) they'll be happy to see our courts follow the exact rules.

    As for Dutroux: the biggest gesture towards the victims' relatives, is to not waste media attention to this guy. He is in jail, and he will remain in jail. Any added attention is pointless. This is not Kim De Gelder, where a serious case is awaiting (due to his mental state) ; in case of Dutroux the crimes are proven and his mental status is not in doubt. So we know he will not be released, so why do we spend pointless attention to this jerk? The costs to have the courtcase should be seen as the cost paid to protect our justice system, which means everyone has the right to appeal, even in cases where we know the criminal has virtually no chance of release.

  2. PS; Colruyt claims to always have the lowest pricing for all products, and that they will lower their prices if it is proven someone else is cheaper. Does this apply to the cocaine as well now? Are they going to verify the pricing of every dealer to make sure their cocaine is the cheapest in the country? :) I know these issues are serious but really, how the heck is it possible to have a cocaine supply end up in a box of fruit?!

    1. I'm thinking someone in the supply chain was supposed to pick up the cocaine but was unable to get to it before it was discovered. Obviously, he wouldn't be able to call them up and ask if they'd found his cocaine...