Several surveys, already published or about to be, indicate that a majority of Belgians wan...
Members of Brussels’ Belarusian community held a picket in front of the city’s Swedish cons...
Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize plans to sell off its businesses in the US as it looks t...
Ethiopian activist Bogaletch Gebre has won an international prize for her campaign to eradi...
Today's Top Stories - August 7, 2012
Chechens attack Afghan asylum seekers
A group of twenty Chechens broke into the detention centre for asylum seekers in Houthalen-Helchteren (Limburg province) on Sunday night and attacked Afghan refugees. Shortly after midnight, the Chechens cut two holes in the security fence perimeter. Once inside the centre they made for a group of about 100 Afghan asylum seekers, attacking them with sticks and injuring several people including staff from the centre. “This was clearly an organised assault,” says Kenneth Arkesteyn of the asylum centre. Local police called for back-up from neighbouring forces, but the attackers managed to escape without being caught. The reasons for the attack remain unclear.
Far-right leader branded “dangerous” over Croatia tweet
Filip Dewinter, the leader of the far-right Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang, was yesterday trying to downplay two messages he posted on Twitter in relation to Croatia (where he is holidaying) and the war in former Yugoslavia. The first featured a picture of General Ante Gotovina (who was last year found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment) with the ambiguous message “a hero to Croats, a war criminal to others”. In the second he wrote “Today (…) is Freedom Day in Croatia. On 5/8/1995 Croatia won the war against Yugoslavia. I’m a bit jealous!”. Political journalist Walter Pauli of Knack and formerly of De Morgen was quick to condemn Dewinter, tweeting back “There were 10,668 people dead, 2,915 missing and 37,180 injured in that war. Only dangerous scum would be “a bit jealous””. Dewinter said last night that people read too much into his tweets, explaining that he was simply jealous of the independence of Croatia and wasn’t praising the violence of the conflict, adding that he would personally be in favour of a Czechoslovakian-style splitting of Belgium.
Belgium imports too much electricity
In the first six months of this year Belgium’s import of electricity increased by 45% compared to the same period in 2011 because of the closure of gas-powered plants. The rise threatens the long-term functioning of the country’s electricity grid. Gas-powered stations, flexible when there is a surge in demand, but now less in demand, have been closing due to low profitability. State secretary for energy Melchior Wathelet defended the closures, saying that a minimum threshold of profitability was necessary to guarantee that producers using gas could ensure supply across the country. But others, including Brussels Free University (ULB) professor Samuel Furfari see the development as a sign of the success of the European market.
No buyer for Dexia tower
Belgian bank Belfius – formerly Dexia Bank Belgium – wants to address its growing property overcapacity problem. In 2014 the bank will have a total of 25,000 square metres of unoccupied offices spread across its three main towers. Belfius’s directors hope to sell or lease the Rogier tower (the most modern of the three); its sale could raise as much as €225m. The Flemish government and, to a lesser extent, the European Commission and the Brussels government expressed an interest in renting parts of the tower. However, discussions with the Flemish authorities are not going smoothly, and the Commission and the Brussels authorities haven’t followed up their initial interest with concrete offers.
Borlée brothers fail to win medal
Medal hopefuls Kevin and Jonathan Borlée were placed 5th and 6th respectively in Monday night’s 400m Olympic final in London. The Belgian stars were beaten by a clutch of rising Caribbean runners with Grenadian Kirini James taking Gold with a time of 43.94. It was the first time that twins had competed in any Olympic final. But disappointed Belgian fans welcomed yesterday a bronze medal from Evi Van Acker (pictured) in the Women’s Laser Radial sailing class. This was a third medal for the nation following Lionel Cox’s silver for Men’s 50m Rifle Prone and a bronze by judoka Charline Van Snick. Final medal hopes for Belgium lie in the Men’s 4x400m relay featuring the Borlée brothers. The first heats of the traditional track & field finale event start on August 9. Competition will be fierce among teams from the West Indies and the US.