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    Brabant Killers enquiry was mishandled, admits magistrate

    © Police handout
    © Police handout

    The investigation into the Brabant Killers has been manipulated by outside interests since the beginning, according to the man who was investigating magistrate until 1990. Speaking in the VTM programme Faroek, Freddy Troch, at the time a magistrate in Dendermonde tasked with investigating the gang’s crimes, said the investigation was being manipulated not only at its centre in Dendermonde, but in Charleroi and Nivelles, where ancillary investigations were taking place.

    The Brabant Killers – so called because that is the province where most of their crimes took place – carrid out a series of targetted killings and robberies in between 1983 and 1985 in which 28 people, many of them supermarket customers, were killed.

    In the 33 years since the last attack, at a Delhaize supermarket in Aalst, many suspects have been investigated, but no-one charged.

    Confusion reigns surrounding sacks containing apparently suspect evidence – a bullerproof vest, a handgun that had been stolen from a police officer and ammunition – discovered by Troch’s team a year after the same area had been searched on the basis of witness statements.

    Troch now maintains that the original search was not even carried out underwater, but visually from a boat on the Ronquières canal. In the meantime, an expert report from the National Institute for Criminalistics and Criminology said the find had been in the water for no more than a month or two, judging by the state of corrosion.

    Later, the federal prosecutor’s office put the period at 24 to 48 hours, a claim Troch now says is contradicted by the state of the evidence. One important piece, found in 1986 but never clarified since, was DNA traces found on the collar of the bulletproof vest.

    And he criticised the new appeal by the federal prosecutor’s office for anyone who may have witnessed the dumping, or taken part in the original search, to come forward. “They’re calling for witnesses to events that happened 35 years ago,” he said. “What useful statements are you going to get from witnesses now?”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times