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Judge: crime victim 'invited attack by flaunting wealth'

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March 25, 2010 – Comments (11)

A Belgian judge has sparked outrage after telling a victim of violent crime that it was his fault for flaunting his wealth in a poor area.

By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Published: 5:24PM GMT 23 Mar 2010

The crime victim, a businessman named only as Laurent, had been living in a suburb of Charleroi, in Belgium's depressed French-speaking southern region of Wallonia.

He moved north after a series of violent attacks and robberies on his family but was taken to a local court because he had not paid back a grant to renovate his house in 1998.  

In 2001, the victim was attacked and his BMW car was stolen. Shortly after it was recovered, armed men stormed his home and stole it a second time.

In 2006, his wife and children were threatened by armed raiders, who stormed his home at night and dragged him away in his pyjamas while his horrified family looked on.

He was later freed and dumped on a industrial estate as the thieves made off with another one of his cars, a Jaguar.

Geneviève Denisty, a Charleroi civil judge, told the businessman that he must pay back over £5,000 in renovation grants because he had behaved "unreasonably" in leaving the region.

"It is perhaps not sensible to draw attention to oneself by driving a Jaguar and living in a big house, making an ostentatious display of one's wealth in a poor and damaged region like Charleroi," said the judge.

The businessman's lawyer accused the civil court of supporting "hooligans".

"In Charleroi, you must drive in a Trabant, wear a tracksuit and live in a slum to be safe from criminals and above reproach from judges," said Clément de Clety.

Many Flemish newspapers, from Belgium's prosperous Dutch speaking north, have reported the case as evidence the francophone Walloon south has become a "mafia" state.

Charleroi, in the heart of Wallonia, is said by most Belgians - including its inhabitants, known as Carolos - to be the most depressing place in Europe.

The city has become notorious as the home of the paedophile serial killer, Marc Dutroux. Another Carolo, Muriel Degauque, became the world's first white, female suicide Islamist bomber when she blew herself up in Baghdad in 2005.

Its Left-wing council has become a byword for corruption in Belgium, losing two Socialist mayors to various scandals in the last two years.

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11 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 25, 2010 at 10:28 AM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

Okay...

1) Mr. Laurent should sue the EU. Why? Everyone knows that Belgium was established as a place for France and Germany to settle their disagreements. Thus it is a place set aside for violence. And thus-thus fostering violence and creating a hostile country where no one is safe.

2) I'd kill for a plate of Belgium Waffles right about now.

3) Who knew Belgium had a New Jersey themed amusement park called Wallonia? It sounds like a vampire inspired Wally World.

4) I've heard consipracy weirdos claim that Belgium does not really exist. I think the claim is based on the idea that some official document got lost in the mail or is still sitting in Napoleon's inbox that was never filed. And if that is so then no crime was commited, no judge said such things, and the waffles I want are just a figment if my imagination. That last item makes me terribly sad.

All kidding aside I wonder if this judge has presided over any rape cases. What a (insert your favorite string of profanities here) moron?!

 

 

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#2) On March 25, 2010 at 10:30 AM, Turfscape (44.88) wrote:

Where are the reality-show heroes like, Supernanny, Ty Pennington and Jamie Oliver, when you REALLY need them?

I think Wallonia needs a good dose of feel-good TV to turn their fortunes around! Maybe a few episodes of "Undercover Boss" starring members of their left-wing council would ease some of the rampant corruption. Get Trump in their to fire the Walloons who aren't making Wallonia more productive!

Gold nuggets, folks...I'm giving you million-dollar ideas here! Let's put our reality-TV stars to work!

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#3) On March 25, 2010 at 10:32 AM, kdakota630 (29.62) wrote:

All kidding aside I wonder if this judge has presided over any rape cases.

That was the comparison I was just going to make.

Excellent article.

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#4) On March 25, 2010 at 10:43 AM, Turfscape (44.88) wrote:

cato wrote:
"I've heard consipracy weirdos claim that Belgium does not really exist."

It's truly ridiculous that Beligium is considered one country. The split between Flanders and Wallonia is, perhaps, one Bible verse shy of the split between Serbia and Croatia.

"All kidding aside I wonder if this judge has presided over any rape cases. What a (insert your favorite string of profanities here) moron?!"

I second that, emphatically!

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#5) On March 25, 2010 at 11:24 AM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

The world always takes a turn to the left after a credit crisis. Stuff like this will get more common for the next decade or so.

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#6) On March 25, 2010 at 11:45 AM, ETFsRule (99.94) wrote:

It's hard to say whether or not the judge made the correct ruling with regards to the repayment... we would have to see the conditions of the renovation grant to make that determination. But either way, judges should keep their personal feelings to themselves... this isn't an episode of Judge Judy.

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#7) On March 25, 2010 at 11:51 AM, ragedmaximus (< 20) wrote:

I love belgian beer and think he should pay back the money ,buy the ugliest car he can find and move into a nicer neighborhood with a concealed weapon and drink lots of wheat beer!

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#8) On March 25, 2010 at 11:59 AM, Turfscape (44.88) wrote:

chk999 wrote:
"The world always takes a turn to the left after a credit crisis. Stuff like this will get more common for the next decade or so."

The incident being discussed is independent from any credit crisis or recession. It's derived from a long-standing cultural split in Belgium between Flanders and Wallonia. And, as you can see in the article, attacks took place in 2001 and 2006.

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#9) On March 25, 2010 at 12:30 PM, dinodelaurentis (73.07) wrote:

catoismymotor said

" I'd kill for a plate of Belgium Waffles right about now."

Those Belgian Waffles were just asking for it, lying there all splayed out, hot and steaming, smeared with butter and pouring syrup allllllllllll over themselves.

I understand completely. I'm sure the judge would agree.

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#10) On March 25, 2010 at 12:49 PM, jdlech (< 20) wrote:

While not approving of the criminals, one has to stop and think about what one is doing.  At what point do you become responsible for the effect your actions have on other people?

I happen to disagree with that judge in this case - given what scant information is given.  But the essential question is; how extreme does your actions have to be before you deserve what you get?  How much must a woman flaunt her body in a pub full of horny drunks before she deserves what she gets? How much can one flaunt one's wealth to a crowd of destitute people to deserve what he gets?

Can I go around swinging at everyone's noses (never quite touching) and expect absolutely nobody to swing back?  Can I taunt you relentlessly expecting absolutely no reaction?  If I messed with your wife and daughter, can I expect no vengeance from you?  So exactly where is that line?

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#11) On March 25, 2010 at 3:10 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

jdlech,

I understand the point you are trying to make. However under the society's expectations and the law we are expected to behave in certain ways, drunk, tempted or not. Just because a flirty lady had my undivided attention one minute then turns cold the next does not give me the right to assault her.

In the case of someone acting out in a violent manner but failing to make physical contact with people or property it is reasonable to take action by calling the police to handle the situation. If you judge the situation to be one where things could escalate and you have the power to stop it you are within your rights to step forward, then call the police from that point, if you think it is prudent.

Cato

 

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