16 prisoners at Ittre prison, who succeeded in getting the Belgian state sentenced at the time of the strike last December, have won their case again, this time in front of the relief magistrate in Nivelles. The Belgian state was sentenced to pay 1,000 euros per day and per prisoner until it could re-establish normality inside the strike-hit prison on December 12th, 2014, and had initiated third-party proceedings to appeal the ruling resulting from a unilateral application. Attorneys for the 16 prisoners confirmed on Monday that the relief magistrate rejected the Belgian state’s appeal on March 10th. The new ruling by the relief magistrate, following due hearing this time, confirms the December 12th, 2014 ruling ordering at the time the Belgian state to immediately ensure the normality of prison conditions in Ittre, so that prisoners could benefit from the rights guaranteed by the European Court of Human Rights. The 1,000 euro-a-day fine has also been confirmed.
Prisons guards in Ittre started striking on December 7th, 2014, which had a major impact on prison life: only a “night-time” (skeleton) service was in place. Visits from families and counsels were cancelled, a hearing at the Sentence Enforcement Court was postponed, and this state of affairs lasted until December 17th.