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False bomb alerts cost man 380,000 euros in fines

© Stansfield/Wikimedia
© Stansfield/Wikimedia

A 20-year-old student has been fined a total of 380,000 euros for making hoax bomb calls in 2016, the Brussels prosecutor’s office reports. The calls, between October and December of that year, were made to report bombs at railway stations and buildings of the justice system in Brussels, Mons and Liege, as well as Charleroi South station and the Charleroi airport. In Brussels, bombs were reported at the North station, the headquarters of the prosecutor’s office and the seat of the court of first instance.

The hoax calls led to buildings being evacuated and, in the case of railway stations, to interruptions in rail traffic affecting thousands. The man, from Namur, was traced by police following Facebook messages which allowed them to track his IP address, and from there his address. The cases from the various cities affected were joined together under the Brussels prosecutor.

At trial last week, the man was sentenced to the maximum of 300 hours of community service, as well as the maximum fine for such an offence of 300 euros. False alarm or emergency calls can also carry a prison sentence of three months to one year.

However the national rail authority SNCB, the rail infrastructure company Infrabel and the police zone Brussels-Ixelles all filed civil suits against the man, and were awarded punitive damages as well as costs for the various train delays caused by the calls.

“In the railway stations, police activity lasted about four hours, and commuters were the main victims,” commented a spokesperson for the Brussels prosecutor’s office at the time.

Including interest accruing since the end of 2016, the total now comes to 380,000 euros to be paid.

According to a statement from the prosecutor’s office, both sides of the case have the opportunity to appeal.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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