A man who took up the pseudonym “The Joker” to launch an online manhunt against the Michel Lelièvre, the accomplice of infamous paedophile Marc Dutroux, is facing prison time.
Authorities identified the man as Silvio V. after he put out a call on social media urging others to track down Lelièvre and “pay him his dues,” just weeks after he conditionally released from prison.
Following the man’s call online, Lelièvre was jumped on and beaten up outside his home in Brussels and had to be hospitalised, in an incident in which V.’s direct implication could nevertheless not be proven.
“I cannot demonstrate the direct link between Mr V.’s appeal and Lelièvre’s beaten,” Denis Goeman of the Brussels public prosecutor’s office said. “But he has clearly attacked and threatened the victim and urged others to commit a crime.”
“There is a big difference between expressing his opinion and inciting other citizens to commit crimes,” Lelièvre’s lawyer, Benjamine Bovy, said on Friday. “Mr V. has clearly crossed that line.”
Prosecutors are asking up to a year in jail and a €2,000 fine against the defendant, who Bovy said should have decided to “take justice into his own hands.”
Lelièvre was released 23 years into his 25-year prison sentence over his involvement in the Dutroux affair, a criminal case that shocked Belgium and led to widespread criticism of its law enforcement apparatus.
Lelièvre confessed to playing an active role in the abductions of four girls out of six girls, who were imprisoned, raped and tortured by Dutroux, who is currently preparing a conditional release request via his lawyers.