Expatica news

Senate president excused for trying to lobby judge

18 March 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgian Senate President Anne-Marie Lizin has retained her post despite widespread calls for her resignation for trying to influence a judge.

The head of Belgium’s Upper House apologised to her fellow senators on Thursday for writing to a judge at her private address to ask her to “re-examine” a mother’s custody case.

She said: “I can assure you that the only thing I wanted to do was to help a mum and her children, given the information that I had received which had touched me.

“I hoped to be able to help by bringing the elements which had been communicated to me to the attention of the judge. I committed in this context clear errors which can be deemed faults.”

In the following full debate on the matter, the centre right MR party, the Green Ecolos and the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) all asked Lizin to resign.

They said it was not enough for Lizin to apologise if she did not accept the seriousness of what she had done: a politician contacting a judge at home clearly breached the “separation of powers” rules which means politicians make law while judges, free from influence, interpret it.

However, the majority group in the senate – the social democratic SPA, the Flemish Liberal VLD and Lizin’s PS party – proposed a motion of confidence in Lizin, which was carried by 41 votes to 22 against, with two abstentions.

The motion included a recommendation that a commission be set up to draw up clear documents outlining the rules on the principle of separation of powers.

An opposition motion calling for Lizin to resign was defeated.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news