‘No one will escape’: lockdown fines to be collected via tax
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    ‘No one will escape’: lockdown fines to be collected via tax

    Police officer monitoring social distancing at Bois de La Cambre - Ter Kamerenbos, in Brussels, Sunday 22 March 2020. © BELGA/ PAUL-HENRI VERLOOY

    Authorities are looking to collect ignored fines issued to offenders of the coronavirus lockdown via tax as a measure of last resort.

    “No one will escape,” Erwin Dernicourt, president of the Board of Prosecutors General, the top law enforcement authority in Belgium, said. “What message would we send to all those millions of good citizens who do respect the rules?”

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    Derincourt said that a plan to secure payment from those who received a fine for failing to observe the confinement measures against the coronavirus’ spread was in the making.

    The plan foresees that fined offenders come before a judge on their own initiative to make their case for innocence, Bruzz reports.

    According to the plan, those who continue to ignore the plan would be confronted with Belgium’s tax authorities, with Derincourt saying that the fine amount would be automatically added to the offender’s tax receipt.

    The plan comes after Justice Minister Koen Geens said in an online statement that authorities must “always give residents the opportunity to dispute” a fine.

    Administrative, or GAS fines, of €250, were introduced as a temporary measure to ensure residents complied with confinement measures to curb the pandemic’s spread in Belgium.

    Since the lockdown was enforced in mid-March, police zones across Belgium have reported over 60,000 instances of violations of the lockdown measures.

    Inside Brussels’ territory alone, police zones said they had already issued over 5,000 reports by 2 April, and a police check in the municipality of Anderlecht culminated in the death of a 19-year-old, with the police action currently under investigation.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times