This is once again an important case of social and financial criminal law that did not hold up in the Brussels Court of Appeal.
The Ogyen Kunzang Choling Buddhist community, which had been listed as a sect, was being prosecuted for numerous offences ranging from forgery, extortion and money laundering to child hostage-taking and sexual abuse.
Verdict: inadmissibility of prosecution! Years of investigation and legal proceedings were swept aside by the court. The testimonies, which these people who grew up in the sect gave after great efforts to overcome their emotions, will not even have been examined in the end.
Neither were the testimonies of those former OKC members who worked in the restaurants without being paid. No more than those of the parents of a young member who claimed to have been raped by Robert Spatz, the guru… “I am outraged! It’s deeply revolting!” said one of them, who spent his youth at the Château-de-Soleils estate in Castellane in Provence.
It was there that the children of the OKC were raised, generally between 1980 and 2000, cut off from their parents, who were put to work in the restaurants and shops of the OKC in Brussels.
On the side of the public prosecutor’s office, there is also desolation. The confiscation of all the OKC’s and Robert Spatz’s real estate, estimated at tens of millions of euros, had been demanded. Advocate General Jean-François Godbille had in fact estimated, after a solid indictment, that they had been acquired with funds resulting from offences. But this will not be the case. The Belgian State will even have to quickly lift the protective seizures of certain houses in Spatz and its community.
But if the Court of Appeal in Brussels has been implacable, its decision is justified. It listed a list of irregularities which the defendants’ defence had skilfully pointed out, and rightly so.
The court took particular care of the prosecutor in charge of the case up to the first trial before the court. “He knowingly substituted himself for an investigating judge”, by conducting a judicial investigation when a judicial investigation was already under way on the same case, and “organised leaks on social networks”.
In this, he “knowingly and voluntarily violated the rights of the defence”, the court thundered. Despite this setback, both the civil party and the public prosecutor’s office have not ruled out the possibility of appealing to the Supreme Court…
Source laDH: G. P.
Robert Spatz, the community guru. d.r.