The Brussels assizes court, which hears trials by jury on the most serious of charges, will resume its activities on May 25 with three murder trials in a row.
The court closed down as part of the lockdown on March 16.
The first act of the court will be to select the jury in the trial of Chadi Nouach. In the Belgian system, jurors and alternate jurors are picked from a group of 60 eligible members of the public by lot. Candidate jurors and alternates may request to be excused. Of those who remain, candidates may be rejected summarily by either prosecution or defence without any cause being given.
Finally, when there are 12 jurors and 12 alternates left, the jury is composed.
Chadi Nouach, a Moroccan national aged 28, is accused of the murder of a 46-year-old Brazilian woman in the Rue d’Arschot in Schaerbeek, close to the North station and the red light district, in April 2018.
Jury selection takes place on May 25, and the case properly begins on May 28.
That is followed by the resumption of the trial of two Albanian men, Robert Frroku and Xhyljan Perdoda. That trial was already under way in March when the court closed down, and the same jurors will continue hearing the case from June 17.
The two men are accused of the murder by stabbing of Abdelaziz Bouhali in August 2016 in the Rue de Laken, in the notorious Alhambra district of central Brussels – a hotbed of street prostitution.
Since the trial had heard all witnesses before the court closed, all that remains now is summations, and the jury is expected to retire on June 19, two days after resuming.
Finally, the case against Syrian national Maikel Etta will begin deliberations on 22 June, the jury having been selected the previous week.
Etta is accused of murdering a Romanian sex worker in Etterbeek in May 2018, stabbing her more than 50 times.
In light of the health situation in the country, the rules on social distancing will be observed in the court during the trials, which will take place in the courtroom of the appeal court, the largest in the building. Jurors will be provided with face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.
Another murder trial scheduled to take place in April has now been postponed until September.