"He didn't actually tell me he was the Giant", said the man, but the witness is positive. "First of all, I recognise these glasses - the man is shown on the right, nvdr. - but also his physical appearance. Of course, I have known my brother for years."
Yesterday, the news emerged that police detectives are investigating new leads in one of the most notorious crime cases in Belgian history. In the 80ies, the Nivelles Gang staged some extremely brutal raids on supermarkets, killing 28 people in total, injuring 20 others and leaving dozens of others traumatised for life.
The killers entered the stores during shopping time, armed with heavy guns, and just shot anybody who was in their way during the robbery. The case could never be solved and remains shrouded in mystery: who were the members of the gang and what about their motives? But a breakthrough seems imminent.
The link with the police
There were already speculations that some members of the gang could have been working for the federal police, more specifically the special intervention unit Diane. The witness has made a key statement in the case. When the identity of the Giant has been revealed, this may lead to a breakthrough in the rest of the case.
The gang had three key members, but possibly up to six members in total, like in the most bloody raid, the one on the Delhaize store in Aalst in November 1985. Some believe that the group had links with the police, adding that the gang members received protection.The three key members had different tasks: one is said to be the leader (the Giant?), while another one did most of the killings, and with a third guy acting as the driver.
A mysterious letter
The renowned Belgian lawyer Jef Vermassen has meanwhile mentioned a letter that he received a couple of years ago. Vermassen is representing David Van de Steen in the case, the man who lost both his parents and his sister when he was a child in 1985, when the Nivelles Gang raided the Delhaize store in Aalst.
Vermassen told the VRT he received the letter a couple of years ago, and that the letter allegedly came from the the Giant himself. Vermassen adds he next sent the letter to the judicial authorities, but that he did not receive a reaction. "I asked them, 'what did you do with the letter?' They were surprised. I told them I sent a letter. The next day, they called me back, saying they had found it, but unopened."
But Christian De Valkeneer, the Liège attorney-general, says he never saw this letter. He laments that Vermassen did not accept a request by e-mail to meet him.