On Friday night, four days after the attacks that killed two Swedes in Brussels, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne resigned. That morning, the Government had learned that the jihadist had been claimed by Tunisia in 2022 but the extradition request had not been processed. The document had reached the judge, but he had not done his job. Was an “individual, monumental and unacceptable error”, but Van Quickenborne, assuming political responsibilities, went home.
We already have a substitute. His name is Paul Van Tigchelt, the outgoing right-hand man in security matters. From 2016 to 2020, Van Tigchelt headed OCAD, the coordination unit that analyzes all threats. And before he had been a prosecutor. He will hold the portfolios of Justice, North Sea and deputy prime minister. He has training, experience and extensive knowledge of the system from all sides. It remains to be seen if he has the political capital, the will, the faith and the strength to take on one of the most difficult tasks since Hercules completed his 12 tests: san(e)ar the Administration of Justice.
It won’t be able to. Neither him nor anyone. Justice is complicated everywhere, what are we Spaniards going to say? But in Belgium, a smaller, endogamous country, in which everyone Not only do they know each other but they have studied together, and have worked in the same law firms, and where the revolving doors move at devilish speed, it is even more complicated.
The authorities have tried to protect the magistrate who made no attempt to hand over a jihadist who had been imprisoned in Tunisia, who was imprisoned in Sweden and who had threatened to kill a person in a shelter in Belgium. They say that the judges are overloaded, that he had completed 30 of the 31 cases, and that he failed just that one. It may be true and perhaps even the cause of the error. It is also true that this judge was convicted in the past when he manipulated a summary to protect a friend of his, a lawyer. And the same thing again with a businessman years later. Reprimand, a few months to the private sector, and back as if nothing had happened.
The same as with the star judge Michel Claise, who recused himself from the QatarGate case of corruption in the European Parliament when it emerged that one of his sons is a partner of the son of MEP Marie Arena. That she is not accused and has not been interrogated, coincidentally, even though she is a confidant or former partner of one of the main investigators. Claise is close to the lawyer of another of the accused, with whom he worked in his father’s law firm, who was also his mentor. And I say transcended because almost everyone knew it, which is a very small world. And nothing happened.