Belgium's top court orders new hearings on evidence seized in raid on bishops' headquarters
October 12, 2010
Belgium’s highest court has ruled that prosecutors should not have been required to return all the evidence that was seized during a June raid on the offices of the episcopal conference.
Lower courts, having found that the June police raid was illegal, ordered prosecutors to return all files to the Belgian bishops and the independent commission they had created to handle sex-abuse complaints. But the top court has now said that abuse victims should have had the opportunity to present their views before the case was decided.
The top court has directed magistrates to retrieve the files that were returned, and hear the arguments once again on whether or not the material should be considered admissible evidence. The high court left open the possibility that after having heard the arguments of abuse victims, the lower tribunals would repeat their earlier ruling that the evidence was illegally seized and must be returned.
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