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Human error sees prisoner freed by mistake
An inmate at Saint-Gilles prison was released on Christmas Eve by mistake after an officer misinterpreted a legal document.
The prisoner was serving a 40-month sentence for pickpocketing - a relatively harsh sentence because he had failed to turn up to the trial.
The man had appealed against the sentence. On 24 December, the Brussels public prosecutor ruled that his appeal was admissible and could be heard in court.
La Dernière Heure reports that a prison officer misread or misunderstood the ruling and believed that the prisoner's appeal had already succeeded.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said: "No judgment had yet been handed down, based on the merits of the case. The proceedings have yet to take place."
The accused has been issued with a new court summons. If he fails to turn up, he will be tried again in absentia.
Meanwhile, unions representing Belgian prison guards have announced a 24-hour strike every Friday in February. The strike notice applies to all of the country's 35 prisons.