A man who impersonated a collective taxi driver is facing up to ten years in prison over nine accusations of rape in Brussels.
The man is facing trial following a complaint filed by a student of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), who last year wrote on Facebook that a fake Collecto driver had kidnapped and raped her.
The man was found to be picking up fares in a fake Collecto van, a shared taxi service provided by the Brussels region using stations of public transport company STIB as pick-up spots.
“I think he rides around the [university district] in Ixelles and spots girls who are walking alone and drunk,” the student wrote, adding that the man wore a STIB uniform and took girls to a house “far from Brussels to rape them.”
The man is facing nine charges of rape, topped off with charges of abduction, intimidation with a weapon and indecent assault.
Prosecutors on Thursday demanded the defendant be jailed for ten years after he admitted to three out of the nine charges, those for which DNA evidence was available.
Lawyers defending the victims said the defendant, who apologised to the victims during the hearing, had confessed to the bare minimum and that his statements did not reflect the reality of what their clients endured.
“It’s a bare-bones confession, it does not correspond to the reality of what really happened,” Attorney Caroline Poiré told BX1.
“He refused to say that he had used a knife to threaten them, he refused to say that he had tricked them into getting into the car,” Laurent Kennes, who is defending another victim, added. “He simply said that, since they were intoxicated, he cannot say they gave consent.”
Following the accusations, the Brussels-Capital Region announced they would introduce GPS tracking of Collecto cabs and give users access to information about the driver.
The Brussels Times