Europe lifts Vanhecke's immunity
The motion was passed with a large majority voting in favour of lifting the immunity.
19 November 2008
The European Parliament has, as expected, voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of Frank Vanhecke of the extreme rightwing Vlaams Belang party. The motion was passed with a large majority voting in favour of lifting the immunity.
Judicial authorities of Dendermonde (East Flanders) want to take legal action against Frank Vanhecke as he is responsible for publishing the Vlaams Belang party newspaper.
The Vlaams Belang publication contained an item on vandalism at a cemetery in Sint Niklaas (also in East Flanders). The publication wrongly alleged that the vandalism was the work of Muslim youngsters. This was not the case.
Now that the European Parliament has lifted Frank Vanhecke's parliamentary immunity, he can be taken to court on charges of racism. If he is found guilty, he could lose his political rights for a period of five years.
Frank Vanhecke is the chairman of Vlaams Belang. He is a Belgian MEP and currently a member of the Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty group of the European Parliament.
The European Parliament voted 564 for and 61 against with 42 abstentions.
Mr Van Hecke says he ensured the article was corrected and called the vote to lift his immunity "a political lynching."