Hosting asylum seekers trial: prosecutors call for acquittal of Belgian journalist for having lent her phone
The prosecutors have demanded the Criminal Court of Brussels to send to jail those people who were found to have hosted asylum seekers.
This trial has been very sensitive over the last weeks and days. What’s at stake? Deciding what legal processes will the people who host asylum seekers face.
In this case, 11 people have been sued as they have been suspected to take part in human trafficking and criminal organisation. Several Belgian citizens are involved, such as volunteers, a journalist and a social worker. The NGOs which are active in the field of migration and human rights have therefore been following the trial closely.
Last Thursday, the two public prosecutors have called for acquittal of two Belgian citizens who have hosted asylum seekers from January to May 2017.
12 people had been arrested on October 2017, after policemen had conducted a phone investigation as well as observations on highway car parks.
Both the journalist Myriam Berghe and another volunteer at Maximilien’s Park might face some months behind the bars. The prosecution has found that they have provided some human smugglers with help: Mrs Berghe had lent her phone to a guy that used to help asylum seekers cross borders.
Looking at the global picture, the prosecution has asked the judges to provide sentences from 1 to 4 months behind the bars for nine persons involved in this case.
While the barristers have pleaded their clients are innocent, or asked for a sentence as lenient as possible, some of them have welcomed the fact that the prosecution in Brussels has been more comprehensive that the one in Termonde, where the interviews had started.
The final decision will be made by the judges on 12 December at 9.00 am.