Brussels shooting: ​ Staff shortage affects entire Brussels justice system, judges say

After last week's attack in Brussels, the spotlight has been on the lack of staff at the Brussels public prosecutor's office, but "the entire Brussels judiciary" is facing shortages, according to judges. Meanwhile, the government is in the process of putting its response to the shooting into action.

At the weekend, prime minister Alexander De Croo pointed to "a serious individual error at the Brussels public prosecutor's office" in the run-up to the 16 October attack in Brussels, in which a gunman killed two Swedes. An extradition request from Tunisia for the perpetrator, Abdesalem Lassoued, was not followed up last year. As a result, the federal government has decided to strengthen the public prosecutor's office in Brussels.

"This dramatic event highlights the chronic lack of human resources within the Brussels public prosecutor's office"

"This dramatic event highlights the chronic lack of human resources within the Brussels public prosecutor's office," the Royal Association of Justices of the Peace and Police said on Monday. "This disturbing finding, denounced for years, unfortunately, concerns the entire Brussels judicial system."

Filling the gaps

The association points out that six of the 19 magistrates' courts in Brussels are vacant. "In addition, the magistrates' courts of the districts of Brussels and Halle-Vilvoorde still do not have their own president or management committee. This weakens their functioning," it says. These "gaps" have existed for nine years. The association calls on politicians to address them "to prevent new tragedies".

Interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) and new Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt (Open VLD) met the general commissioner of the federal police, Eric Snoeck, on Monday to discuss implementing the action points announced on Saturday.

"It takes time because we cannot compromise on quality or safety"

"The money has been released and is in the budget, let's use it," said Van Tigchelt. Verlinden said the government was on track to meet its target of recruiting 1,600 new inspectors a year but was struggling to recruit in a tight labour market. "We are turning the tide, but nobody can fill a full corps overnight," she said. "It takes time because we cannot compromise on quality or safety."

Van Tigchelt said that while the ranks of many federal judicial police forces are complete, it is difficult for Brussels and Antwerp to find suitable people.

Verlinden and Van Tigchelt are expected back in parliament on Wednesday for a briefing on the aftermath of last week's attack. State secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor will also be questioned.


Interior minister Annelies Verlinden and Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt at a meeting with the federal police on 23 October © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

Related news

Website preview
Brussels shooting: Justice minister resigns after 'error with dramatic consequences'
Belgium's federal minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne, announced his resignation at a hastily called press conference on Friday evening. Four days after two people were killed in a terrorist attack in Brussels, Van Quickenborne said he wanted to take political responsibility for "an error with dramatic consequences".

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels