Belgian cardinal to bring legal action over investigation leaks

Mr. Hans Geybels and Cardinal Danneels.
Mr. Hans Geybels and Cardinal Danneels.


Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels is filing a civil complaint against investigators after a second piece of information was leaked to the press, despite the fact that the investigation is supposed to be closed. The cardinal's spokesman said that although the prelate was exonerated after incriminating reports were published, his reputation is "tarnished beyond repair."

A Friday statement from Cardinal Danneels' spokesman Hans Geybels addressed reports that an incriminating photo had turned up on the hard drive of the cardinal's computer. He said that the photo of a young, nude girl had been automatically downloaded to the computer through no action of its user from a Flemish television website.

A press release from Jean-Marc Meilleur, spokesman for the Brussels' prosecutor's office, explained that an investigation had been carried out as to the origins of the photo of girl. “It is now certain that the picture was downloaded automatically to the temporary files of Mr. Daneels’ computer while visiting the website of the Flemish Broadcast Corporation,” the release said.

Mr. Geybels underscored that "a breach of confidentiality" had led the to the news reports and had "again, tarnished" the cardinal's reputation "beyond repair."

The first instance took place on Tuesday when a Belgian newspaper reported that information belonging to the civil courts involving pedophile and killer Marc Dutroux was found in archdiocesan records. As it turned out, the information was on a CD mailed out by a satirical newspaper for reactions during the 2004 Dutroux trial and had been filed away.

With the national and international news generated by these leaks, asserted Geybels, the cardinal's reputation has been so damaged that not even the prosecutor's explanation of the origins of the photo can repair it.

He concluded his statement saying, "We therefore ask with the greatest insistence that a serious inquiry be made into this violation of the confidentiality of the investigation and are filing a civil complaint as to this subject."

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