Belgian entrepreneur’s ‘show trial’ against Van Ranst backfires
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Belgian entrepreneur’s ‘show trial’ against Van Ranst backfires

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An Antwerp businessman’s lawsuit against a leading virologist who warned against travelling to the coronavirus-hit city has backfired after his case flopped in court.

Rudi De Kerpel, a business owner in Antwerp, will be forced to absorb the legal costs of dragging Marc Van Ranst to court after the virologist urged residents to avoid visiting Antwerp as coronavirus cases flared up there in the summer.

The court’s decision on Tuesday concludes De Kerpel’s legal charge against what he called Van Ranst’s “reckless” statements about the coronavirus pandemic, which the entrepreneur argued were “disastrous” to the city’s economy.

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Despite attempts by the businessman to withdraw his suit midway, Van Ranst refused, insisting that the plaintiff go “full steam ahead” with what he referred to as a “show trial” with which De Kerpel “abused” the courts “just to make a point.”

De Kerpel will now have to pay €165 in legal fees as well as cover the over €700 incurred by Van Ranst, after the court dismissed the case, noting that there was insufficient evidence to support accusations that the virologist was careless in his statements or that they were incorrect, based on his scientific knowledge at the time, according to HLN.

The businessman was originally seeking to obtain compensation of up to €5,000 from Van Ranst, a key coronavirus advisor to the government who does not shy away from commenting on the government’s and the public’s response to the pandemic.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times