Annoyed behind the wheel, he decides to molest the other driver: “It didn’t go as planned”

Her sobs resonate in this courthouse appeal chamber. “I shouldn’t have, it didn’t go as planned”, sighs Claude (assumed name) in a quavering voice. If you look at him closely, you say to yourself that it must take a lot to make him burst into tears. With his burgundy velvet shirt, his gray beard collar and his slightly drooping shoulders, the man has a solid stature. The two police officers surrounding him reinforce this impression. It’s hard to imagine him falling for trifles.

The facts go back a few years. That day, Claude, a truck driver, drives on a road on the outskirts of Brussels. The car driving in front of him annoys him. The man first chomps at the bit but at some point, he can’t take it anymore and decides to overtake her. Claude is rather sanguine: he brakes hard and gets out of his vehicle with a determined step. A few seconds later, here he is forcibly extracting the driver of the other vehicle. Then follows a fight which turns to the advantage of the assailant. Claude pulls the other man to the ground, throws him against a parked car and kicks him once on the ground.

When the other driver’s wife tries to intervene, he pushes her away with the back of his arm. The beating continues for a few tens of seconds. Claude leaves and leaves behind his frustration at having had to contain his behavior, a man on the ground and his panicked wife.

Justice Sketch: “I just wanted to do a favor for a friend…”

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A fist, then nothing

Questioned by the police, Claude will initially deny the facts. He will say that he was not present at the scene at the time because he was at home. A friend will confirm this version. But the testimony of the victim’s wife and that of a neighbor who witnessed the scene overwhelm him. As for the victim involved in the exchange of blows, his memory fails him. “I remember being punched, and then nothing”, he declared to the police at the time. Claude will eventually recognize his involvement. He will justify his lie by the fear of being taken back, he who was at the time on probation.

In the first instance, the testimonies of the molested man, his wife and the witness all point in the same direction. Claude violently beat up the driver of the other vehicle without there really being a fight. A beating, therefore, rather than a brawl. At the time, he received a prison sentence and owes several thousand euros in fines for the civil component. The neighbor had tried to assert the damage that the fall of the man on his car would have caused. The Vilvoorde court refused, arguing that the damage to his car had nothing to do with the altercation.

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A new version in pictures

Claude decided to appeal the case because, in the meantime, he got his hands on a video of the altercation. Where is she from ? Impossible to hear from the bays of the courtroom. The noise of the wheels of a moving trolley drowned out the inaudible exchanges at that time. Anyway, the video exists.

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The problem is that she does not film the whole altercation. The images only show what should be called the second part of the fight. And that is precisely what Claude’s advice is about. “We see the driver standing on these two feet, even going to meet my client”, he describes to the assembly. Too well in point for the shots described in the version of the civil parties. And above all, we see the driver play his fists there and even go, at a certain moment, to grab Claude by the neck. If we do not see the whole altercation, we see enough to undermine the version that had convinced the judge at first instance. “My client does not dispute the blows, but rather it is a fight between two men”, he argues, and not from a beating.

He also disputes the attitude of the trial judge. He would have blindly followed the version of the civil parties. However, the famous 39-second video seems to show a more complex reality than the story that had been made of it.

The Advocate General is offended by this line of defence, which she sums up in a minimization of the incident. It will be up to the judge to confirm, or not, the first conviction. Judgment expected on April 21.

A snatching attempt in France: the victim pushes his attacker, the thief dies hit by a TGV

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