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    Commission official sentenced for anti-Semitic hate crime

    The Brussels Court of First Instance has sentenced an official in the European Commission for an anti-Semitic hate crime. In July 2015, the official physically assaulted another guest at a coffee bar in the EU quarters in Brussels and insulted her verbally in the belief that she was Jewish. The assailant was carrying around a plate with the name of Mussolini, the Italian dictator and hardly a model for EU governance. When the victim as the only person dared to remark on this, she was brutally assaulted, both physically and verbally, and had afterwards to look for medical care. As there were witnesses to the incident, she immediately filed a complaint at the police.

    The defendant was sentenced to a three-year probationary period, during which he must undergo therapy against alcohol dependence and training in tolerance and against anti-Semitism. He also has to pay €500 in moral damages to the victim and one symbolic euro to Unia, a Belgian institution that combats discrimination and promotes equal opportunities.

    Asked at yesterday’s press briefing (8 October) whether the official is still working in the Commission, the chief spokesperson replied that the Commission is aware of the court case. “The proceedings of the Belgian court aren’t yet completed and we’ll wait for the final judgement until we’ll conclude our internal procedure according to the staff regulations.”

    At the time of the incident, Kristalina Georgieva, then European Commission vice-president for Budget and Human Resources, wrote to all Commission staff that “The European Commission has zero tolerance for any act of racism, hate speech or other unethical behaviour by our staff, including anti-Semitic actions.”

    The Brussels Times