Share article:
Share article:

Lenient sentences for “SS guards” in Forest prison

© Melioratif/Wikimedia
© Melioratif/Wikimedia

A group of 14 prison guards from the prison of Forest in Brussels are to appeal against sentences they received for ill treatment of prisoners, defence lawyers have announced. The sentences handed down this week by a court in Brussels were already being described as “lenient” – between two and 20 months in prison, all sentences suspended. The 14 officers sentenced were among 22 accused, including the director of the prison, who was accused of criminal negligence.

The court heard how the accused officers had humiliated, provoked and chastised prisoners, as well as using excessive force. The guards had become known as the “SS” among those aware of their practices, the court heard. The director of the prison was accused of allowing such practices to go ahead without taking action. The offences took place in 2014-2015. Prisoners had been harrassed by being deprived of drinking water and being left in the showers with no water to rinse themselves.

The prosecution had demanded sentences of five years against all involved. Instead, the court found the director and two officers were found guilty, but given no sentence. Five officers were acquitted. The remaining 14 were given suspended sentences.

The judge in the case recognised the difficult circumstances in which the officers work. One of the acquitted officers explained: “We are trying to do our jobs in very difficult circumstances, faced with Syria fighters, terrorists and murderers who listen to nothing and no-one.”

Now all 14 have announced their intention to appeal. One convicted man told Bruzz: “I got 15 months suspended because I took a resisting prisoner out of his cell using an armlock, on the orders of the director, just as I was trained to do,” he told the paper. “That judge needs to come and explain to us what he thinks we need to do to get that sort of rampaging prisoner under control.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

More women take police selection tests in Belgium
The selection tests to become a police inspector have more and more female participants, according to figures released by Interior Affairs Minister ...
‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules
Several city councillors for education in Brussels are calling to abolish the "absurd" differences in coronavirus measures for Dutch-speaking and ...
Massive renovations for iconic venue in the heart of Brussels
Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique has announced plans to renovate the AB Café and the AB Salon and is looking for a contractor fit for the job. ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Test results show pupils have fallen behind in Flemish schools
Learning delays have been reported in almost all subject areas in Flanders since the start of the pandemic, a trend that continued in 2021, a ...
Belgium considers relaxing testing rules for UK travellers
At the next Consultative Committee meeting, Belgium will look into relaxing the testing and entry policy for travellers coming from the United ...
Jette libraries start giving plants away with books
Visitors to libraries in the Brussels municipality of Jette will soon be able to pick up a free plant along with a book, thanks to the new Plantotek ...
‘Do what you want, but do it as safely as possible,’ experts warn
As the daily number of new coronavirus infections exceeds 3,000 for the first time since May, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe and ...
‘We’re running dry’: Brussels teacher shortage reaches critical levels
The teacher shortage in Brussels is affecting schools across language borders, according to Brussels’ Minister for Multilingualism and Dutch ...
New coronavirus infections above 3,000 for first time since May
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has skyrocketed to the highest rate since the start of May 2021. Between 9 and 15 October, ...
Belgium in Brief: Getting To The Airport
When I saw the news of plans for a tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels' outskirts to the airport, my first reaction was sheer joy.  Let ...
EU should invest €5 trillion in climate plan, says State Secretary for Economic Recovery
The European Union must invest €5 trillion in its climate plan over the next decade to "retain its credibility as a political project," according ...