Expatica news

Scandal politician proposed for top United Nations job

15 March 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium’s Senate President is in the running for a top UN job despite being in hot water for trying to influence a judge.

Anne-Marie Lizin, also the mayor of Huy, has been proposed for the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The government has nominated Lizin – the first woman to lead the Belgian Senate – and Economic Minister Marc Verwilghen for consideration for the job, which is free since Dutch Ruud Lubbers resigned over sexual harassment allegations.

The news came as Constantin Chariot, a museum curator, announced he would sue Lizin for trying to influence the judge in his child-custody battle.

Chariot, who claims his ex-partner attacked him and his new partner, says writing to the appeal court judge in Liege the week before the case was due to be heard was “undignified of the high function that she [Lizin] has in the Senate”.

Chariot said he would introduce a legal writ against Lizin as soon as the judge ruled on his custody suit.

The judge who received Lizin’s letter at her home address asking her to “re-examine” the file has withdrawn from hearing the case.

On Monday, Lizin and her socialist colleagues were hoping that the political storm started on Saturday by a report in La Derniere Heure would blow over.

However, by Tuesday the PS was forced to give in to the demands of opposition parties that Lizin answer questions on the matter in the Senate.

It was announced that Lizin would make a statement on Thursday in the House, at 11 am, followed by a debate among senators.

On Tuesday morning, Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe, the PS minister-president of the Walloon parliament, also announced on RTBF radio that Lizin had committed a fault and would face some form of punishment.

Van Cauwenberghe, who had previously said too big a deal was being made of the matter, said Lizin might be given a warning from the interior minister.

Van Cauwenberghe insisted it was important not to forget the work the Senate President has done for her constituents, but he said she overstepped the mark by writing to a judge’s home address in a divorce case.

On Monday, in a statement outside the PS office, Lizin herself admitted: “In my work as a mayor, a mum wanted to talk to me about her personal situation. Following contact with her, I wrote two letters to a judge asking her to re-examine the elements that I had been acquainted of concerning a problem of child custody.”

“I have, it has proved, committed a gaffe because I should have addressed the letters to the mother’s lawyer.”

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news