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Police, security service to end conflict

Published on 02/08/2005

2 August 2005

BRUSSELS — A co-operative protocol between police and the security service VS will be signed in the autumn to clarify the tasks and powers of both organisations, especially in the war against terrorism.

Interior Minister Patrick Dewael and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx have confirmed an agreement will be signed.

It comes after the VS urged last week for the situation to be clarified, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Tuesday.

The protocol is designed to end a power struggle that has emerged in Belgium’s war against terror since VS agents raised concerns police are starting to encroach upon their area of operations.

The distrust was strengthened last week when the police supervisory authority, Comité P, urged for police to take a greater role in combating terrorism. This, however, is also a role of the VS.

The issue was driven home on Monday when Minister Dewael revealed he intends to allow police to tap telephone calls if there are suspicions an attack is being planned. Currently, that may only occur if a terrorist attack has already been committed.

And this is despite the fact that the VS is already involved in combating terrorism while an attack is in the planning phase, but has no authority to bug telephones.

The Interior Ministry said the planning phase is “a grey area” when it comes to the powers of both services. “But the protocol will resolve that,” it said.

However, the VS has refused to comment on the matter and supervisory minister Onkelinx stressed that no political agreement has been reached over Dewael’s proposal.

Instead, Onkelinx said she is working on a legislative proposal allowing the VS to also tap telephone calls.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news