Belgian bishops lament 'wild information' being leaked to press

Belgian bishops' attorney Fernand Keuleneer.
Belgian bishops' attorney Fernand Keuleneer.


Responding to an article from Tuesday's edition of the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the Belgian Bishops' Conference released a statement on Thursday explaining that the CDs found in their offices during the recent police raid were sent to the archdiocese by a “third party.” The bishops' spokesman added, “We need serenity and this kind of wild information is insane because it gives the impression of a very dramatic atmosphere with plots all around."

The Het Laatste article from Tuesday was billed as an "exclusive" report that revealed information regarding the cases of two girls killed by "the Monster of Marcinelle," Marc Dutroux, was found in the search of archdiocesan offices. The paper asserted that these documents were destined only for civil courts and not for the Church.

Upon hearing of the newspaper's allegations, the episcopal conference's lawyer, Fernand Keuleneer, contacted judicial authorities to discover the "elements" behind the article. Mr. Keuleneer said he particularly wanted to confirm the origin of the report, the veracity of the information and to discover how it was made public during what is supposed to be a closed investigation.

Receiving no response, the bishops' conference said it released this morning's statement with the information they had on hand.

After conducting an "internal investigation," the conference found that the information on the girls, including pictures and documents, was sent to its office by a third party in CD format as the Dutroux case was being prosecuted.

Other copies had also been sent to court reporters, politicians and other Belgian personalities, the conference said.

This was "in no way a 'unique find'," the bishops' conference asserted.

The Italian bishops' SIR news cited a De Morgen report in which they explain that in 2004 a satirical English newspaper called The Sprout had sent out the CDs seeking reactions during the Dutroux trial.

The Belgian bishops went on to say in their July 7 statement that "It would be really unfortunate that 'information,' falling under professional and investigative secret has been voluntarily disclosed to the press by people involved in the investigation, with the aim only of creating sensationalism.

"This does not contribute to the serenity of the investigation," they said.

According to Vatican Radio, Belgian bishops' spokesman Eric de Beukelaer said today in a press conference, "We need serenity and this kind of wild information is insane because it gives the impression of a very dramatic atmosphere with plots all around."

In their statement, the bishops said they only "wish to cooperate properly with the justice system" and "to contribute by answering questions from investigators, rather than reacting to press reports."

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