The Bruges prosecutor’s office is reported to be “not amused” to learn of the release for a weekend leave of a man sentenced just eight months ago to 21 years in prison for organising the murder of his own son-in-law.
Dr. André Gyselbrecht was sentenced in May for paying hired criminals to scare his son-in-law Stijn Saelens in January 2012. Instead, a scuffle ensued, and Saelens was shot dead. His body was later found buried in a shallow grave.
Now the man who ordered the attack that turned fatal will be allowed out of Beveren prison this evening to visit his wife at their home in Ruiselede until he has to return on Monday morning. The penitentiary leave was approved by justice minister Koen Geens.
However the Bruges prosecutor’s office told the Krant van West-Vlaanderen they knew nothing of the approval. The office made no official statement, but the paper reported they were “not amused”.
Gyselbrecht is under orders not to contact the relatives of the victim – in other words his own daughter and her children. According to the trial testimony, Gyselbrecht had wanted to intimidate his son-in-law into changing his plan to emigrate to Australia with his wife and children.
“We are surprised at this news,” the family said through their lawyer. “As civil parties we had expected to be kept informed of news like this if a court were to consider it. That is clearly not the case, unfortunately. We would have liked to have a voice in this discussion.”
The prison authorities said it did not discuss individual cases. In theory, Gyselbrecht would be entitled to three periods of 36 hours each out of prison in each six-month period. “Penitentiary leave is a right according to the law,” a spokesperson told Belga. “That means that whenever someone fulfils the legal conditions (including the lack of evidence of other crimes, a flight risk or the risk of disturbing victims) then leave is meant to be approved following thorough psychosocial investigation.”