Princess Elisabeth Polar Station: New Polar Foundation proceedings against Elke Sleurs decision
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    Princess Elisabeth Polar Station: New Polar Foundation proceedings against Elke Sleurs decision

    © Belga
    Icy waters ahead in the International Polar Foundation litigation.
    © Belga

    A new application has been started by the International Polar Foundation against a decision by the Secretary of State, Elke Sleurs. The Foundation’s barrister, Me Luc Depré, indicated this to the Belga press agency today (Monday).

    He was simply confirming information reported by the French-speaking television station, RTL-TVI.

    The Foundation intends to freeze, with extreme urgency, Ms Sleurs decision, announced on 20th October, to send the army to the Princess Elisabeth Polar Station in Antarctica.

    Notification of the application was given during the weekend, according to the lawyer.

    Me Depré explained, “We are challenging a decision communicated by Ms Sleurs to the Chamber of Representatives, but we do not actually know either the contents or the date.” He indicated, “The state is forcing us to use every means possible until we’ve exhausted all avenues.”

    The new application for the highly urgent suspension is essentially based upon upon the fact that only the Secretariat of the International Polar Foundation is authorised to take decisions of this type. This is according to the Foundation.

    It is, in particular, relying upon a decision of the Council of State made on September 23rd.

    This decision recognizes the status of ‘preferred partner’ attributed to the Polar Foundation simply by convention.

    The Secretary of State in charge of Scientific Policy, Elke Sleurs, announced on October 20th (Thursday), that the federal authorities will be organising, from October 25th to February 26th, a mission to the Princess Elisabeth Polar Station at the South Pole.

    She added that three members of the International Polar Foundation (IPF), with which the government is however in conflict, are indeed invited to participate.

    Upon Ms Sleur’s proposal, the Council of Ministers approved this scientific mission being undertaken.

    Last year, Ms Sleurs undertook legal action against Alain Hubert and his Foundation for having removed material from the polar station, which included a crane, a digger, geo-tracking equipment, a generator, fuel and tools, as well as food.

    The Secretary of State is demanding, through legal action, 300,000 euros in compensation.

    The Alain Hubert Foundation is arguing that Ms Sleurs has unilaterally breached the binding contract, whilst apportioning on-site material, which in reality belongs to the Foundation.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times