Legal parties agree that the detention period needs to be lengthened, the director of the Organ for Threat Analysis Coordination (OCAM) Paul Van Tigchelt has said. Along with the representatives for the Public minister, he is asking the Chamber’s Commission against Terrorism for a 48 hour detention period.
“This 24 hour period is too short for the 21st century”, the former Antwerp general prosecutor said: social networks have been developed, criminals have gone international, and since 2011, they have to have a lawyer from the first interrogation.
The prolongation to 48 hours would be general. The OCAM director wants to prolong the period to 72 hours for terrorism cases. “Terrorism cases are different because human lives are at risk”, he explained.
The government wants a 72 detention period for terrorism cases. A Constitution review proposition submitted by the majority authorises questioning terrorism suspects for 72 hours instead of 24. In other words, an exception for terrorism would not be written into the Constitution but decided by the legislator, on an ordinary majority.
The former president of the Constitutional court, Marc Bossuyt, warned MPs against this. The law that defines exceptions can be appealed by the court, as it could be seen as discriminatory.
“My preference would be a more precise review of the Constitution. 24 hours would be replaced by 48 hours, and preferably without exceptions”, he said.