New call for witnesses in 33-year-old Brabant Killers case
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    New call for witnesses in 33-year-old Brabant Killers case

    © Police handout
    Artists' impressions of the gang
    © Police handout

    The federal prosecutor’s office has issued a new appeal for information on the case of the Brabant Killers, responsible for 28 murders and a spate of robberies which ended suddenly in 1985. The culprits remain unknown and at large.

    The new appeal comes after the prosecutor’s office confirmed that evidence in the case had been tampered with as far back as 1986. It is also counting on a new law, brought in my the justice ministry specifically to help with this investigation, which allows criminals who provide information leading to a break in the case with a reduction of any sentence they may face.

    The gang known as the Brabant Killers began in the early 1980s with a scattering of robberies and apparently targetted assassinations. They then began attacking and robbing supermarkets, opening fire on customers and staff. The last attack came in 1985 at a Delhaize supermarket in Aalst.

    By that time they had murdered 28 people, and now, 33 years later, no-one has been charged, and despite numerous theories, no coherent motive for the crimes has been proposed. Most of the robberies brought in pitiful amounts of money – certainly not enough to justify gunning down innocent people by robbers who, according to witnesses, appeared trained and competent in the use of weapons.

    The fact that the members of the gang remain at large also speaks to their expertise, however reprehensible their crimes may be.

    Along the way, a number of suspects have been considered and then exonerated. The latest is Christaan Bonkoffsky, an ex-gendarme in Aalst, who was suspected of being the gang member known as the Giant (for lack of any other form of identification, the members have been given nicknames by investigators). Bonkoffsky had been turned in by his own brother, but investigation by the prosecutor’s office eventually ruled him out as a suspect, magistrate for the federal prosecutor’s office Eric Van Der Sypt told the VTM investigative programme Faroek.

    Van Der Sypt also conformed rumours that the investigation had been tampered with. In one instance, just days after the attack on Delhaize in Aalst, divers searched the canal at Ronquières in Hainaut province on the basis of a tip, but found nothing. A year later another group of divers searched again, and found bags containing weapons and what appeared to be part of the haul from Delhaize.

    However on investigation, Van Der Sypt explained, it was found that the bags contained cheques written out to Delhaize which were still dry and legible, suggesting they had not spent a year in the water.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times