‘Sadistic’ gang jailed over torture, attempted murder of minor and string of violent crimes
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‘Sadistic’ gang jailed over torture, attempted murder of minor and string of violent crimes

A fight broke out in the court following the pronouncement of the sentences, after the gang's presumed leader reacted violently to his 14-year-sentence. Credit: Antwerp Police

Nine gang members received lengthy prison sentences after being found guilty of a string of violent crimes including burglary, extortion and the brutal and hours-long torture and attempted murder of a minor.

Members of the gang, made up of two minors and men and women aged between 18 to 37, received prison sentences ranging from 4 to 14 years, with the longest prison sentence given to the group’s presumed leader.

Mayhem broke out in the courtroom on Wednesday after the 19-year-old leader’s violent reaction to his sentence led to a fight, with police attempting to contain him and other gang members jumping into the scuffle amid the chaos, according to HLN.

The incident in the courtroom will be the object of a complaint which could lead to charges, adding to the group’s already prolific criminal activity carried out over a roughly two-month period in 2018.

Crimes committed under influence of drug ‘cocktail’

Mostly active in Antwerp but with some crimes committed in Boom and Stabroek, the gang called itself “De bende van horen, zien en zwijgen,” which roughly translates from Dutch into “the gang who listens, watches and remains silent,” in a reference to the three wise monkeys proverb.

“In order to belong to the gang, you had to be willing to commit serious crimes, to be willing take a beating (sic) and even to confess to crimes you did not commit,” according to police’s profile of the group.

The nine gang members, who police said had likely been under the influence of a “cocktail” of drugs before, during and after committing many of their crimes, were facing a series of charges relating to at least 13 known instances of criminal offences.

Arrested at the start of 2019, the gang was namely charged with the brutal torture of a minor and former gang member, a crime described by prosecutors as “sadistic” in nature.

In October 2018, police said gang members went to a home in Boom with “the intention of killing” their victim, a minor, whom they reportedly went after because they accused him of interacting with police.

The gang kept him hostage and viciously tortured him for ten hours, with media reports of the court proceedings describing how the gang members took turns spraying him with deodorant in an attempt to set him on fire, beating him with tubes and cords, stabbing him with a screwdriver, burning him with cigarettes and a hair straightener and trying to push his eye out.

The victim managed to escape through a window and was found in his underwear with severe burns and injuries on the roof of another house in Boom, De Standaard reports.

Member’s grandmother targetted in series of burglaries and break-ins

Attempts by three female gang members to convince the court that they had been pressured by the gang’s leader to participate in the crimes were unsuccessful.

“All the defendants participated voluntarily, either by actively participating in the torture or by encouraging others, by filming or by posing,” the court found.

The gang’s leader was the only member of the gang found guilty of attempted murder, after the court ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove that other gang members also had the intention of killing their tortured victim.

The gang was also facing prosecution for other crimes, including pressuring a woman to prostitute herself and blackmailing her, breaking into the apartment of one group member’s grandmother, threatening and stealing valuables from her home, and gagging, beating, and strangling a man’s son after being allowed into their home.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times