Dioxin scandal: 2 year suspended prison sentence
At the trial in Ghent of the owners of the fat processing company Verkest from Deinze (East Flanders) Jan and Lucien Verkest were given a 2 year suspended prison sentence, as demanded by prosecutors. The exact amount of the compensation is still to be determined. Jan and Lucien Verkest are expected to appeal the ruling.
Father and son Verkest were given a suspended sentence because both had a clean police record.
The judge found most of the major accusations to be well grounded. "The accused put their own economic interest above public health".
Jan and Lucien Verkest were taken to court on charges including forgery and merchandise fraud. They claimed they were selling processed animal fat to animal fodder manufacturers. In reality machine oil was mixed in with the fat Verkest was selling. This was at the basis of the dioxin crisis in 1999. Through contaminated fodder the dioxin-containing fat made its way into the food chain.
Verkest supplier, the Walloon company Fogra, was also condemned. Jacques Thill and his sister Jacqueline received a one year suspended prison sentence. Fogra supplies Verkest with fat that was contaminated with PCBs.
Lawyer for father and son Verkest
Jan and Lucien Verkest’s lawyer, Hans Rieder, has said they will appeal the ruling. “I think that this is a politically-tainted sentence. We will appeal the decision in a higher court.”