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Belgian bar owner sentenced to prison for pouring a beer

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The owner of a bar just outside of the city of Leuven was sentenced to three months in prison and a €1,000 fine for pouring a customer a beer, violating Belgium’s coronavirus measures.

“The punishment I received is disproportionate,” Wim Poppe of bar-restaurant Gitan in Kessel-Lo in Leuven said on Flemish radio.

One evening when Poppe and his girlfriend were chatting in the bar after having served takeout for the day, a well-known customer passed by, he explained.

“He asked how things were going. He then asked if he could come in, and paid €100 to support us,” Poppe said, referring to the nationwide shutdown of the hospitality industry as part of the coronavirus measures. “Out of gratitude, I offered him a glass of beer. And that is when the police arrive.”

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While one police officer reacted “moderately,” according to Poppe, the second one would not let it stand and issued a fine for breaking the coronavirus measures.

As Poppe did not want to pay for the fine, the case went to the police court, where he was sentenced to three months in prison and a €1,000 fine, as well as €300 in legal costs.

“However, I am definitely going to appeal and I am going to find people who have expertise in that area,” Poppe said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times