Cycling legend Eddy Merckx yesterday learned he will not be prosecuted in a case involving alleged corruption in the supply of a set of bicycles to police in Brussels, as the case has now passed the limit of the statute of limitations. Merckx was one of 13 people accused in the case, where it was alleged Merckx supplied a police commissioner and his wife with expensive top of the range Eddy Merckx bicycles in return for winning a contract to supply 46 bikes to the cycle patrols of the police zone Brussels-South, which covers Anderlecht, St-Gilles and Forest. Total contract price: 15,000 euros.
Following his cycling career, Merckx, nicknamed The Cannibal, went into business designing, manufacturing and selling bicycles. The police zone opened up the sale to public tender, as the law requires, and the Merckx company put in a bid. According to the prosecution, the police commissioner inspected the bids ahead of the deadline, so as to allow Merckx to file a lower bid and win the contract.
The first investigations in the case took place 11 years ago, and the case has been wrapped up for four years, yet lay unopened for the last four years without action being taken. This week, in a closed session, a court ruled that the time-limit for the case to be brought to court has now elapsed.
The long delay, according to Ine Van Wymersch, spokesperson for the Brussels prosecutor’s office said, “is due to various factors. We regret this, because it sends out a wrong signal. This was a very extensive dossier, and we are only able to work with the resources we are given.”
Like Merckx, the other accused in the case will also escape prosecution. Among them not only the police commissioner in question, but other officers involved in cheating for bribes in other public tenders. Those officers are for the most part still serving in the federal police force, and in the absence of any prosecution will continue to do so.