During the summer of 2014, the Keelbeek land in Haren, located on the northern outskirts of Brussels, was occupied by opponents of the Maxi-Prison project. On these 18 hectares of farmland and nature, the state dreams of building the largest prison in Belgium. The occupation, nicknamed the Keelbeek ZAD, aims to defend this green space threatened by concrete and to stop the extension of the prison park planned by the federal government. Because, without even waiting for the permits, the Régie des bâtiments tries to start the work several times. But each time, the construction machines are pushed back by the opponents of the project.
Between the tree houses and the vegetable garden, the zadists are also experimenting with another way of life, ecological, supportive and self-managed. On May 20, 2015, the public hearing of the Consensus Commission regarding the maxi-prison project takes place. The same day, refusing to follow the paths marked out by the authorities, about fifteen zadists decided to express their opposition by demonstrating inside the Régie des bâtiments. Unexpected outcome: the model of the maxi-prison, exposed in the entrance hall, is destroyed during the action.
Following this demonstration, an investigation is opened by the public prosecutor and 4 people, however not implied in the destruction, find themselves before the courts. On February 19, 2016, without even being able to identify the perpetrators of the destruction and despite the obvious contradictions between the testimony of the security guard and the images of the surveillance cameras, the criminal court sentenced the 4 people to 10 months in prison with 3 years suspended for « destruction of movable property in a gang ».
On April 18, 2018, the verdict was confirmed by the Brussels Court of Appeal. On October 1, 2021, the court pronounces the verdict for the civil part of the case. The 4 militants are condemned to pay back 43.000 euros to the Régie des bâtiments, owner of the destroyed model. This arbitrary and painful verdict concludes 6 years of trial and confirms the repressive strategy of the State: to strike heavily at a few opponents in order to frighten all the others and to try to stifle any contestation. Since the beginning of the project, the Maxi-Prison has been strongly opposed by all sides. Between the ZAD, the inhabitants of Haren, the anti-prison and environmental groups, the actions against the project are numerous.
The police take the liberty of monitoring the every move of the opponents. Then the Justice does not hesitate to sweep away all the arguments of the defense and to finally condemn 4 people, only on the basis of their presence at a demonstration during which there were degradations. So the judges welcome all the invoices that can inflate the bill, going so far as to count 4 models and 5000 euros for the removal of one of them. And the public prosecutor’s office has already tried to make the occupants pay 1.2 million euros for the destruction of the fences installed around the Keelbeek site. However, given the weakness of the case, the legal proceedings fell through and were turned down in the council chamber.
For the 4 convicts, these 6 years of trial in front of the steamroller of Justice, including 3 years of suspended sentence, have been painful to live. But the civil verdict, with its astronomical amount to be repaid, is a new blow, with the risk for one of them that his house will be seized. Only a collective and united response will make it possible to counter the repressive strategy of the State. The 4 convicts are not alone, they can count on our support.
Because this trial concerns all the people who fight for a world without bars or concrete, because it is us who are tried to silence by fear by striking some for the example. This trial concerns all of us because the reasons for condemnation, the crime by association, based on the simple presence at a demonstration, is a repressive logic more and more followed by the courts. This kind of condemnation is multiplying and it can happen to all of us.
This is why we are calling for your financial solidarity. All contributions are welcome. Bank account in the name of « soutien procès maquette »: BE66 5230 4745 8943
The support committee for the 4 convicts Information, ideas and support proposals: firstname.lastname@example.org