Expatica news

Officer suspended for leaking info

23 February 2007

BRUSSELS – The court in Antwerp has convicted an officer who leaked a list of extremist and terrorist organisations to the Vlaams Belang party in 2005.

The court ruled that the officer had breached professional secrecy by leaking the internal and confidential document. The detective in question showed Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang the so-called “secret list of extremist and terrorist groups,” on which both the Belang itself and Gaia were included. Dewinter subsequently published the list. At the end of 2005 the Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx (PS) branded the list as unlawful.

The public prosecutor had asked that the man be sentenced to six months in prison and a 550 euro fine for violating professional secrecy. The defence argued that the document did not contain any secret information. “The information of the organisations were perhaps not confidential, but the ranking and classification make it clear that this was an internal and confidential document,” was the court’s ruling.

The court said that the officer should have been more careful with the information. “A police officer is expected to do his job with the discretion necessary for the effective functioning of the police apparatus,” the decision read. The court did take into account that the man had no criminal record and did show remorse. As a result he was suspended but not sentenced to prison or a fine.

The Humanist Union and the Union of Mosques and Islamic Foundations of Antwerp recently filed complaints because their names were on the list. The organisations feel their privacy has been violated and that they have been the victims of slander and defamation of character.

That case was brought before the court on Wednesday but has been postponed indefinitely until further investigation can be carried out.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news