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Brabant Killers case closed without resolution

09:14 02/07/2024

The cold case of the Brabant Killers has been officially closed without any resolution, leaving victims’ families upset at the bungled investigation.

The case refers to a wave of deadly supermarket robberies that took place in 1983 and 1985, leaving 28 dead and prompting a 40-year investigation that in the end amounted to nothing.

“We can only observe that no active investigative steps have yet been taken in this case,” federal prosecutor, Ann Fransen, said in an announcement of the closure of the case.

“Years of intense research and constant effort have not produced the results we all expected. It's a message that's neither pleasant to convey nor to hear. We are aware that this is a crushing blow for the victims and we have a great deal of compassion for them.”

Fransen said that over the past five years, the investigating judge and the 10 or so investigators still assigned exclusively to the investigation “meticulously” re-explored all leads and followed up new ones, verifying 1,815 items of information.

“New means of investigation and all modern scientific methods have been used,” said Fransen.

“A total of 593 DNA samples were taken and compared. An in-depth ballistics investigation of weapons and shell casings was also carried out.”

The civil parties to the case said they felt abandoned. Rose-Marie Duhoux lost her husband in a 1985 killing and her son was seriously injured.

“My son only has one lung – he can't work like anyone else - and we've got nowhere, it's crazy,” she told RTBF.

Victims will still be able to consult the file and possibly request additional investigative steps, but there is no guarantee that the Council Chamber will order them.

The historic murders are among Belgium’s deadliest. They took place between 30 September 1982 and 9 November 1985, mostly in Delhaize or Colruyt shops. Other incidents involved gun shops, bars, a jeweller’s and a taxi driver.

The deadliest incident took place in September 1983 at the Colruyt store in Nivelles, where the perpetrators murdered three people during the robbery and became known as the Brabant Killers.

After a series of deadly robberies between September 1982 and December 1983, the violence abated for a bit in 1984.

They began again in the fall of 1985, killing eight people (including a 13-year-old child on a bicycle) and making off with 1.5 million Belgian francs. They would go on to kill two more children in subsequent robberies.

A gang of thieves from the Borinage area were prime suspects. Members were arrested, released and then arrested again. Finally, they were sent back to court in Mons in 1988.

Under pressure from the investigators, confessions and retractions followed one another over the months, but the investigation was criticised for a lack of rigour and objectivity, along with questionable ballistics measurements.

A parliamentary commission of enquiry highlighted weaknesses in the case, including that investigators overlooked certain leads that pointed to people within the security forces.

There is no statute of limitations on the killings, which means that the investigation could be relaunched, but only if a serious new element comes to light, which seems unlikely.

Written by Helen Lyons



40 years and no conclusive result. Incredible.

Jul 3, 2024 15:12

My wife and I lived in London that year…Brussels was a place to avoid!

Jul 9, 2024 06:44