The Ghent Attorney General has sent a letter to the House about Egbert Lachaert. This shows that the Open VLD chairman, despite his parliamentary immunity, has been summoned before the criminal court. That writes De Tijd on Thursday.
The Prosecution Committee met in the House on Wednesday afternoon. There, behind closed doors, a letter was discussed that the Prosecutor General of Ghent had sent about a direct summons from Open VLD chairman Lachaert before the criminal court. The summons was not issued by the Public Prosecution Service itself, but by Gert Van Mol, the man behind the satirical website ‘t Scheldt, with which Lachaert had already argued several times.
The roots for the subpoena lie in an old case. More than ten years ago, Lachaert acted as a lawyer for The Wall Street Journal, with which Van Mol got into an employment dispute. In a later summons from Lachaert to ‘t Scheldt, he indicated that this is the reason why the website often targets him. According to Van Mol, however, Lachaert violates his professional secrecy as a lawyer.
One day not inviolable
Normally, a member of parliament enjoys parliamentary immunity, but Van Mol’s lawyers have made use of a quirkiness, which has to do with a lacuna whereby all members of parliament were not inviolable for one day this year. According to the Ghent attorney general, the summons is therefore admissible, which means that Lachaert should legally sit on the dock to defend himself.
The question is how to proceed and whether the Prosecution Commission is still suspending the procedure. In any case, the committee will hear from the Attorney General about the situation, just like Lachaert himself. The Open VLD chairman calls his summons “hallucinatory” and speaks of a damage action by ‘t Scheldt.