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Belgium

Yearbook 1998

1998 BelgiumBelgium. In mid-February, a parliamentary inquiry into how police and other authorities acted against the pedophile revealed in 1996 was published. Many had wondered how the league could act undisturbed for so long. Police were cleared of suspicions of protecting the league's leader, Marc Dutroux, but the authorities' actions were sharply criticized. Dutroux again made headlines when he managed to escape from a courtroom in the city of Neufchâteau on April 23. This country's most closely guarded criminal was arrested after four hours in detention, but the evasion got a political aftermath when both Minister of Justice Stefaan De Clercq and Interior Minister Johan Vande Lanotte were forced to resign with immediate effect. Parts of the political opposition demanded the resignation of the entire government, but Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene won a vote of confidence in Parliament on April 28.

1998 Belgium

In early September, the extensive trial of former NATO commander Willy Claes and another eleven people from the leading strata of Belgian society began. Claes was forced to resign from his post in NATO in 1995 when the so-called Augusta deal was discovered. He was accused of receiving bribes from two companies manufacturing military equipment during his time as Socialist Minister of Economy: Italian helicopter manufacturer Augusta and French airline Dassault. Both companies had signed profitable contracts with the Belgian Armed Forces. Claes and his then colleagues, Guy Coeme and Guy Spitaels. The judges fell on December 23: all three former ministers were convicted of bribery. The sentence for Willy Claes was conditional on three years in prison.

According to Countryaah, a Nigerian woman died in late September when she was escorted by eleven policemen to her home country. As she began to fight inside the airplane, two policemen tried to calm her down by pushing a pillow over her face, with the result that she was suffocating. Among other things, Amnesty International has on several occasions criticized the Belgian police for treating refugees. Now the protests increased, and the citizen movement formed in connection with the revelation of pedophilia in 1996 were among the most active. The government stopped all planned deportations until now. A few days later, the relatively new Minister of the Interior Louis Tobback took the consequences of the protests and filed his resignation. It was initially not granted by the Prime Minister, which after all the scandals that hit the sitting socialist party would find it difficult to find a new candidate that everyone within the party could agree on. Two days later, however, King Albert accepted his application and Tobback was replaced as Minister of the Interior by Luc Van Den Bossche.

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