40 Antwerp street racers acquitted: “Carpark is not the public highway”

A magistrate in Antwerp has acquitted 40 people that were on trial for having participated in illegal street race. The street races took place on the carpark of the sports goods superstore Decathlon in the Luchtbal area of the city. The magistrate ruled that all 40 accused should be acquitted as the car park is not a public highway. 

News of the mass acquittal appears in Friday’s edition of the daily ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’.and has been confirmed by VRT News sources. The 40 suspects were caught by police in March last year while they were taking part in races that they had organised on Decathlon’s car park.

"The charges the prosecutor brought against the majority of the defendants centre around them having incited excessive speed and their failure to control their vehicles on a public road. However, we believe that the top floor of the car park in question is a public place but not public road," Johan Hermans, a lawyer for two defendants told VRT Radio 2. The magistrate accepted this argument. 

All 40 defendants, mainly men in their twenties from the Antwerp are, were acquitted."A consequence of this ruling is that retail chains must think carefully about installing barriers at their car parks so that no one can use them in the evening", Mr Hermans concludes.

Public Prosecutor Office is studying verdict

The Antwerp Public Prosecutor's Office had invested heavily in tackling the issue of street race wants to raise awareness about its dangers. This is why the forty defendants all had to appear in court together at a special thematic hearing. 

The Antwerp Public Prosecutor has told VRT Radio 2 that it will extensively analyse the verdict and the motivation given by the judge. On the basis of this it will then be decided whether or not to lodge an appeal.

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