The week in brief: 25 September


11-year-old girl is admitted to adult psychiatric unit, Marks & Spencer premises will be taken over by AS Adventure, and the rest of the week's headlines

An overview of the week's news

Mehdi Nemmouche, the man accused of shooting four people dead at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, did not appear at a committal hearing this week because of health problems, his lawyers said. “Nemmouche is suffering from terrible pain and is sometimes unable to see or hear,” they said in a statement. The problem “could be caused by a tumour,” they said, before claiming that Nemmouche was not getting proper medical treatment.

The premises currently occupied by Marks & Spencer on Guldenvlieslaan in Brussels will be taken over by AS Adventure and Juttu at the end of the month. The British Marks & Spencer is closing most of its outlets on the European continent. This is the second time the iconic supermarket and department store has left Brussels. It vacated Nieuwstraat in 2002 before re-opening on Guldenvlieslaan in 2015.

The federal ministry of public health has described as “very unfortunate” the case of an 11-year-old girl who was admitted to an adult psychiatric unit in Ghent last week. According to a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office in Oudenaarde, it was an emergency measure, as no places were available in a youth psychiatry unit. The girl has since been transferred to a children’s unit.

According to a survey carried out by the Flemish Energy Agency, 96% of electric car owners are satisfied and would advise others to try it. The main problems cited were distances capable of being travelled between charges and a lack of public charging posts.

A Brussels police officer is in custody accused of passing information to terrorist suspects and their accomplices. One such incident involved the brother of Usama Atar, a suspect in the 2016 bombings of Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station. The officer is a dispatcher in the Brussels-North zone, which includes Schaarbeek, where the Brussels Airport bombers were staying.

Flemish sports minister Philippe Muyters has launched a new campaign aimed at sport halls that offers suggestions for getting parents to join a sport when they drop off and pick up their kids from the facility. It also suggests that halls work in the other direction: Get parents who take part in a sport to bring their kids along. In Flanders, 60% of adults do not get the recommended 30 minutes a day of physical activity even though in 95% of families at least one member takes part in sport.

An investigation has been opened into the death of Claude Van Marcke, mayor of Anzegem, West Flanders. Van Marcke, 48, died last week in an Aalst hospital as a result of complications of what had been described as a routine operation for heart problems. He is reported to have suffered an allergic reaction to an injection given to treat a cardiac arrhythmia.

St Paul’s British Primary School in Tervuren has changed its name to ISF Tervuren International School, following a merger with ISF Waterloo. Both schools fulfil the UK National Curriculum and the adapted International Primary Curriculum, which addresses the needs of mobile families.

Hannelore Vens, the Bruges woman featured in the new VTM series Over winnaars climbing the steps of Machu Picchu in Peru on high-tech leg prostheses, is now the proud owner of the legs. Radio station Qmusic helped raise the €90,000 to pay for them.

The anonymity of sperm donors in Belgium can no longer be guaranteed, according to UGent gynaecology professor Petra De Sutter. Fertility clinics are required by law to keep details on the identity of sperm donors private, but commercial laboratories in Belgium are not bound by such laws. De Sutter’s statements followed a report that someone had been able to track down their biological father.

Unizo, which represents the self-employed, and four environmental organisations have banded together to contest the Brussels-Capital Region’s plans for the Heizel plateau. The group took its case to the Council of State last year, but now claims the changes ordered by the region for the new shopping complex Neo are merely cosmetic. Among the objections are that the complex will add 65,000 cars on an average Saturday to the already congested Brussels Ring Road.

Language laws in Belgium need to be eased up to make way for the advance of English in education and business, according to Pieter Timmermans, director-general of employers’ organisation VBO. “The rules have to be more flexible,” he told students and staff last week at the academic year opening of Arteveld University College in Ghent. “The language wars are a thing of the past.”

The mayor of Evere in Brussels has spoken out against a hatch for foundling babies opened by the non-profit organisation Corvia in Lindestraat. The hatch allows people to safely abandon newborns. Acting mayor Pierre Luylle said that abandoning a child is illegal. Antwerp is home to the only such hatch in the country, where nine babies have been left since 2000.