Vlaams Belang supremo to lose parliamentary immunity?
Justice minister has requested immunity to be lifted so prosecution against Vanhecke can proceed.11 April 2008
BELGIUM - Belgian justice minister Jo Vandeurzen of the Flemish Christian democrat party has asked the president of the European Parliament to lift the parliamentary immunity of the Flemish Euro MP Frank Vanhecke.
Vanhecke is a former leader of the far right Vlaams Belang party, the successor of Vlaams Blok.
The justice minister says the lifting of the parliamentary immunity is necessary to allow a prosecution to proceed.
Vanhecke stands accused of racism. In 2005, the mayor of Sint-Niklaas Freddy Willockx filed a complaint against the local party of Vlaams Belang in his town. In a leaflet the party had linked an act of vandalism to the presence of members of the ethnic minorities in Sint-Niklaas.
Vanhecke was responsible in law for this publication. If convicted under Belgian anti-racism legislation, Vanhecke could lose his seat in the European Parliament as well as his right to be active in politics.
The procedure to lift a member's parliamentary immunity could take a long time in the European Parliament. Both the Justice Committee and a plenary session of Parliament have to vote on the matter.
Vanhecke is astounded by the move. He says usually the author is quizzed first and not the responsible publisher.
[flandersenews.be / Expatica]