Court rejects far-right politician's appeal against judges in racism trial
Dries Van Langenhove, founder of the far-right Flemish nationalist movement Schild & Vrienden, and six co-defendants will stand trial in a Ghent court on 9 January on charges of racism and negationism after Van Langenhove's appeal against the presiding judges was rejected on Wednesday.
Van Langenhove's appeal to the Court of Cassation against an earlier decision by the Ghent Court of Appeal was rejected on Tuesday. He had filed three applications for recusal on 10 October against the president of the court, Jan Van de Berghe, and the two other judges in charge of the case.
The three judges refused to recuse themselves and the first chamber of the Ghent Court of Appeal had to rule on the recusal. However, this court rejected the request on the basis of the internal rules governing the allocation of cases to judges.
The defence had been aware for some time of the composition of the court, which made the late appeals unacceptable - an argument that the Court of Appeal agreed with, and therefore rejected the appeals. Van Langenhove then appealed to the Court of Cassation, only to have his appeals rejected again.
The investigation into Van Langenhove began in September 2018, after a TV documentary exposed racist and antisemitic messages shared by members of Schild & Vrienden in secret chat groups. Van Langenhove was officially placed under suspicion in June 2019.
Van Langenhove was an independent member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives from 2019 to 2023. He had been elected on the electoral list of the far-right party Vlaams Belang, but was not technically a member of the party.
#FlandersNewsService | Dries Van Langenhove (right) during a lecture by Dutch politician Thierry Baudet in Ghent in October 2023 © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE