The week in brief: 10 August


Waste Land gets 13 Ensor nominations, Latin American gang robs airport passengers and Ardooie fire declared arson

An overview of the week’s news

A federal court in Switzerland has definitively adjourned a criminal case in connection with the bus crash in in March 2012 in which 22 children from two Flemish schools were killed, as well as six adults, including the two drivers. A lower court had originally dropped all charges, but a number of the children’s parents pressed for an appeal. The higher court’s ruling cannot be appealed, and the case is now closed. Officially, the accident was caused by human error on the part of the driver, but no one is legally culpable.

The film Waste Land by Flemish director Pieter Van Hees (pictured) has been nominated for 13 Ensors, the Flemish film industry awards. About a police detective (Jérémie Renier) caught up in a case that leads him to Brussels Congolese underground, the film is nominated for script and director, lead and supporting male and female actors and best film. Paradise Trips by Raf Reyntens, in cinemas next week, received nine nominations, including script, direction and lead actor for Gene Bervoets.

Some 150 dairy farms have been blockaded by the federal food safety agency after bovine tuberculosis was discovered in Meeuwen, Limburg. The farms are thought to have had some connection with the Meeuwen farm, although cases elsewhere have yet to be discovered. The animals at Meeuwen, meanwhile, have had to be destroyed. Bovine TB can be transmitted to humans via raw milk, but authorities said the risk was minimal. The disease is devastating for other dairy herds, however.

Police have warned of a Latin American gang that preys on airport passengers during security checks, after €1,200 was stolen from a man’s wallet at Brussels Airport. The members of the gang, travelling on Mexican passports, buy cheap tickets and then, once arrived in the security zone, watch for expensive watches, phones or wallets in the plastic bins. When passengers go through security more slowly than their items, the thieves have time to rob the bins and move on before anyone notices.

A fire that destroyed a former church in Ardooie, West Flanders, was set deliberately, investigators said. Fire services attended the blaze last week from five different stations. The building is the property of the municipality and had been turned into a cultural centre. “A sad loss,” said mayor Karlos Callens.

Apples and pear growers in Flanders suffered a loss of €75 million last year as a result of the Russian boycott on EU agricultural products, according to an expert for farmers’ union Boerenbond. That represents a loss of 20%. “That’s not too bad, considering we were fearing a 35% loss at the outset,” said the union’s Luc Vanoirbeek. The reason losses were limited, he said, were increased consumption at home and in existing client countries, as well as success in finding new markets, including Canada and Asia.

A project in Leuven to fight food waste has been restarted after two refrigerators in the Tweebronnen public library, placed there to make excess food available to those who need it, were stolen within half a day of being installed. The organisers obtained two new fridges, one from a similar project being run in Genk.

The Carrefour hypermarket in the Brussels commune of Evere is experimenting with a single-line queue in an effort to speed up checkout. Shoppers form a single line and are called up to the first available checkout, instead of the usual jockeying for position in the best queue only to see every other line move faster.  Customers tend to choose their lines according to visual factors such as number of people, explained spokesperson Baptiste Van Outryve. But that ignores other factors such as more items or a slower pace in paying. “The classic system offers no guarantee you’ll be served faster,” he said.

The Hotel du Louvre, a distinctive Art Deco building in Ostend, is to be demolished despite protests from local groups, provincial authorities have ordered. The building, a former brewery converted into a hotel, has been vacant for years, but the owners of the new building which will replace it have a permit only on condition they respect the harmony of the surroundings in their new design.

The red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is the most common species of butterfly in the gardens of Flanders, according to a census carried out by members of the public for Natuurpunt. The butterfly measures 50 millimetres and is recognisable from its distinctive red, brown and black markings. It can often be seen feeding on nettles and ivy, as well as – aptly for Belgium – hop plants. The red admiral narrowly won the count ahead of the cabbage white (Pieris brassicae).

Police in Brussels took advantage of the fine weather to write tickets for 57 motorcyclists who were stopped for not wearing regulation gear. That includes a helmet, gloves, long sleeves, trousers and boots that protect the ankles. They also caught two riders of mopeds whose vehicles could go faster than the 25 km/h limit and 16 Class B bikes with various irregularities. 

Photo courtesy De Standaard