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Advocate General already suspended for three months after fraud in magistrates’ exam


The Ghent Advocate General, who, as a member of the High Council of Justice, provided a candidate with the assignment for the magistrate’s examination in advance, has been provisionally suspended for three months with deduction of wages as part of the disciplinary investigation. The Attorney General in Ghent decided this.

The Ghent Advocate General CB, member of the High Council of Justice, is suspended for three months. The attorney general in Ghent decided this. CB passed on the assignment for the magistrates’ exam in advance to a son of a friendly couple of magistrates. The Advocate General admitted that, as co-author of the exam, he had given (at least) one candidate magistrate the exam in advance.

The High Council of Justice (HRJ) had transferred the file to Attorney General Erwin Dernicourt on Sunday with the request to initiate a criminal investigation and disciplinary proceedings. It has now been decided that part of the salary of the Ghent Advocate General CB will be withheld and that he will be suspended for three months. That suspension could still be extended.

The attorney general’s decision on Friday only concerns the disciplinary investigation. “It goes without saying that very high ethical and deontological standards apply to an Advocate General because he fulfills an important social task,” says Dernicourt. “In the interests of the ongoing disciplinary investigation and to ensure a serene handling of the matter, no further information will be provided.”

Criminal investigation

Following rumors and a report of fraud, the HRJ started its own investigation into the conduct of the Dutch-language criminal law magistrates’ examination in January. As a member of the examination committee, the Ghent Advocate General gave the assignment in advance to a trainee lawyer, who is the son of a department attorney in Bruges and a judge in Ypres. According to the HRJ, as a jury member, the Advocate General would also have kept the candidate informed of subtle changes to the assignment in the days preceding the exam, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office confirms that this concerns “the evolving content of the improvement guideline”. .

The Public Prosecutor’s Office states that it happened “on the Advocate General’s own initiative”, but the criminal investigation must reveal the involvement of the trainee lawyer and his parents. The candidate and the jury member admitted the fraud in a conversation with the other members of the examination committee, according to the HRJ.

The criminal investigation has now been started, but only the first investigative steps could be carried out, because the magistrate involved is a member of the attorney general’s own corps at the Court of Appeal in Ghent. To ensure the impartiality of the investigation, the file has been transferred to the Court of Cassation via the Minister of Justice. That should determine whether the case moves to the Court of Appeal of Antwerp or Brussels, but the decision on this is not yet known. Because the Advocate General has served on several examination committees over the past three years, the HRJ had asked the Attorney General to conduct the investigation “as broadly as possible”.

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