US News Trial of 13-November, Week 12: The Anonymity of Belgian Investigators Made Polemic

02:25  30 november  2021
02:25  30 november  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Le procureur fédéral belge Frédéric van Leeuw a demandé l’anonymisation des policiers antiterroristes belges dans le cadre du procès des attentats du 13 novembre 2015. © AFP / Kenzo Tribouillard The Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw requested the anonymization of Belgian anti-terrorist police officers in the context of the trial of the attacks. November 13, 2015.

Graduate in Political Communication at Paris XII University, Thibault Guichard, Historian at the Present Time History Institute (IHTP), is also a contractual doctoral student at Paris VIII University. For RFI, he follows the auditions of the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, and gives us every Monday his gaze on the conduct of the hearings during the previous week.

RFI: it's a subject that has been rebuttu for several days, like an " sea snake" according to President Jean-Louis' s words : the demand for anonymization of Belgian investigators and their visioconferencing hearing raises disputes . Can we summarize the steps of this debate?

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Thibault Guichard : Mid-November, France Info released a letter from the Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw, requesting the anonymization of Belgian anti-terrorist police officers. He claimed his astonishment as to the difference in treatment between the French investigators, who are heard anonymously as provided for in our criminal proceedings, and the Belgian policemen.

The question was therefore examined in the House of the Council, that is to say no public, a few days later. A compromise seemed to have been found: the seven investigators cited to testify would intervene anonymously and at a distance, but with uncovered face.

Since this decision has been made, however, several defense lawyers seize the slightest opportunity to assert their grievances and challenge the decision of the Court. To protest against the refusal to appear investigators, or the decision of the Court - it is unclear - four then five accused also decided not to appear at the hearing, a position defended by their lawyer.

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From the point of view of the defense, why is the request of the Belgian federal prosecutor's prosecution deemed not legitimate?

The node of the problem, for the defense, it is the respect of the principle of the contradictory. Because the investigators who testify are not the same who have led the investigations and who assume responsibility, defense lawyers believe that it is difficult under these conditions to obtain answers or clarifications on elements. accurate instruction.

Also, it is the system itself of these hearings that poses a problem for some lawyers. Unlike the police officers of the DGSI, the Belgian investigators are accompanied by two other magistrates, who do not intervene, but who attend the totality of their testimony. Some lawyers saw there a symbol of the control and the effect of censorship exercised by the Belgian parquet.

It is probably exaggerated, but that is very important on the issue, many times invoked, with respect for the rules of the proceedings, the rights of the defense, in short of the democratic standard.

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What has been seen at the hearing on the behavior of Belgian investigators, the responses they have been able to bring or not to the different issues that have been submitted to them?

The annoyance of the intervention of the Belgian investigators, seems general. Except for the public prosecutor, critics came from all sides: defense lawyers, but also the banks of the civil parties and some victims who follow the trial.

justified or not, these critics testify at any case of a feeling of frustration. Frustration that counter-terrorism services have not intervened in time. The case of surveillance of Brahim Abdeslam does not fail to ask a few questions, which still remain unanswered: was the Federal Intelligence Service seized in February 2015 of the radicalization of the one who will explode Voltaire counter, or only on November 14th? And why was nothing then done? It is useless to want to rewrite the story, of course, but the fact that no clear response is made increases the disarray of several parts.

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