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Six guilty of Cools murder

Published on 07/01/2004

7 January 2004

BRUSSELS – Six men were found guilty Wednesday of ordering the 1991 murder of former Belgian deputy Prime Minister Andre Cools at the end of an incident-plagued two-month trial and ten years of political high-drama. 

Richard Taxquet, Giuseppe Di Mauro, Luigi Contrino, Carlo Todarello, Cosimo Solazzo, and Domenico Castellino were also found guilty of ordering the murder of Cools’ girlfriend Helene Joiret, who survived the attack.

The six were among eight defendants charged with masterminding the shooting of leading Socialist Party figure Cools outside Joiret’s house in a suburb of Liege. Two other defendants, Silvio De Benedictis and Mauro De Santis, were both acquitted of all charges.

Two Tunisian nationals were convicted in 1998 for carrying out the killing and sentenced to 25 years in jail each while the investigation into the identity of their paymasters and the motive for the crime continued.
The trial was dogged by protracted legal delays, the ill health of one of the defendants, the fugitive absence of three others and diplomatic negotiations for the testimony of the two Tunisians.

The lengthy judicial investigation preceding the trial has exposed a series of corruption scandals in Belgium, causing the resignation of four of the country’s ministers and that of Nato secretary-general Willy Claes.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Belgian news