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Man jailed over grisly train death

Published on 17/01/2006

17 January 2006

BRUSSELS — The man who pushed an NMBS-SNCB public transport security officer to his death under an approaching train was jailed by Brussels Court for three years and four months on Tuesday.

Pierre Schonkeren will also lose his civil rights for five years and was ordered to pay court costs of EUR 3,983.41.

He was also ordered to pay the symbolic damages figure of EUR 10,000 to each of the victim’s parents. The victim’s brother will receive EUR 2,500 in compensation.

Four NMBS-SNCB workers will receive symbolic damages of EUR 150 to EUR 500 because they were witness to the tragedy.

Brussels Court also ordered Schonkeren to pay EUR 2,415.21 to the NMBS-SNCB to cover the costs of the accident and a provision of EUR 1,000.

Flemish man, Kurt Demets, of Erembodegem, was working as an NMBS-SNCB public security officer when he died.

On the night of 4 April 2004, the 29-year-old came face to face on a platform of the Brussels Central Station with an aggressive man who was complaining about the travellers information.
The commuter, Schonkeren, of Wezembeek-Oppem, pushed Demets, who then fell off the platform and was dragged 50m along the track by the Antwerp-Amsterdam train. He died at the scene.

Both men had been drinking that night: Schonkeren had 1.3 percent alcohol in his blood, while Demets had 1.45 percent, newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported.

The jail term imposed on the accused is bigger than the three years and one month demanded by the public prosecutor on 14 December 2005.

Brussels Court found the defendant guilty on charges of intentionally beating and causing injuries ending in unintentional death and resisting a member of the railway police.

“There is not the slightest doubt that the victim received a deliberate and hard shove. At that moment, the accused must have known Demets would fall into the path of the train,” the judge said.

“According to witnesses, the accused wanted to even just walk away after that push.”

The judge said the defendant carried an “overwhelming” amount of responsibility in the case, stressing that someone died because Schonkeren simply wanted to catch his train. “It is only the defendant who remains unmoved by the case.”

According to the judge, the defendant was wholly responsible for the crime even though the victim had also been drinking that night.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news