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'Cyclist of the Fens' demands compensation for suffering caused by video release
The man who has become known as "the cyclist of the Fens" is fighting back a year after a video of him pushing a little girl out of his way on a path in the Hautes Fagnes went viral.
The man in his 60s is now seeking compensation for the damage suffered by the broadcast of the clip and is suing the father of the child he shoved to the ground, who filmed and released the video.
The video of the incident, which took place on the High Fens in December 2020, created a buzz online after it was posted on social media and was viewed and shared thousands of times. Many of the comments which followed were abusive towards the cyclist and claimed that he had deliberately cleared his path by knocking the little girl out of his way as he rode past.
The furore led to the Verviers prosecutor's office launching a call for witnesses to identify the cyclist. After being found, the man spent a night in a cell before being brought before the criminal court of Verviers.
The court recognised that the cyclist did not mean to inflict any harm to another person but that he indeed showed poor judgement in such conditions, which resulted in a movement that sent someone sprawling.
The court ruled that the man’s culpability in causing the girl to fall had been proven, but that he would receive no sanction – except for a symbolic €1 in damages paid to the family, which they had requested.
However, despite this, the man claims that the media storm around the case caused him suffering, which is why he has decided to sue the father of the little girl and claim compensation for the damage suffered by the broadcast of the video.
A first hearing in the civil court is scheduled for 18 November. The girl's father is expected to counter by claiming the right to freedom of expression.