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Ghent prosecutor suspended after #MeToo allegation

The city courthouse in Ghent. © Stad Gent

The public prosecutor for Ghent, Johan Sabbe, has been suspended and is now the subject of a disciplinary and a judicial investigation after an allegation of inappropriate behaviour made by a female chauffeur employed by the office.

Sabbe was suspended from his duties at the end of last week, since when it has been confirmed that the complaint is not only being treated through internal disciplinary channels.

It is also being investigated as a criminal complaint, and is being handled by the prosecutor’s office in Antwerp to ensure impartiality.

Sabbe was promoted to chief prosecutor for Ghent seven years ago. Since then he has been promoted even further, when the offices of Dendermonde and Oudenaarde were added to his roster, making him the first ever super-prosecutor for East Flanders.

Prior to becoming public prosecutor he was known to the public as the magistrate in charge of the investigation into illegal trafficking in hormones.

It was Sabbe’s investigation that revealed that the hormones used illegally by farmers to fatten pigs and by cycling teams to help cyclists perform better are identical products.

Now it is officially confirmed by the office of the prosecutor-general for the jurisdiction that he is being investigated by police, no further information is likely to be released officially.

Sabbe was not available for comment, and his lawyer has advised him not to react to queries.

De Standaard, however, reports that insiders are describing the case as “a delicate dossier” involving someone from Sabbe’s professional circle.

The paper reports that the woman involved took her complaint to the prosecutor-general’s office in January. The complaint concerns the content of a series of WhatsApp messages that the prosecutor sent to the woman over a certain period of time that she considered unwanted and inappropriate.

She also alleges the falsification of documents relating to her original complaint.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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