About ‘organised crime’ in the closed centre of Vottem: Update

27/10/2014: Police officers came into Mr A’s cell in the closed centre of Vottem. They told him they had a warrant of arrest against him and brought him to the prison in Lantin. It seems that the Belgian state (under the pressure by the Foreigners office) asked to review his conditional release. Mr A was imprisoned for 25 years and he was going to be released under the condition that he left the Belgian territory, which he had the intention of doing. He wanted to join his family (wife and son) who are living in France. The day before his release he was transferred to the closed centre of Vottem where he spent 2 months in solitary confinement. Now he is in Lantin!

Mr Larbaoui has been in full solitary confinement (an ‘appropriate treatment’ according to the management) for one month, in a cell of the secure wing of the closed centre in Vottem. He doesn’t meet anyone nor hear anything. He is entitled to a 2 hours walk in a yard surrounded by high wire fences and under camera monitoring. He can walk alone or rather with 4 or 5 prison guards and he often refuses to, not seeing any interest in this outing. (http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/please-translate-in-en_uk-de-gevangenis-in-de-gevangenis-in-vottem-de-beveiligde-vleugel/)
Complaints have been lodged for illegal imprisonment and physical/psychological mistreatment. The Committee for the prevention of tortures has been warned.

Text by Mr Larbaoui on his detention conditions

‘QHS or the temptation of security drift, or when an administrative measure becomes a penalty of imprisonment without the approval of justice.

To be retained in Vottem under the motto of ‘order and security’ is not often easy, it would already be wise that the operating rules be set and targeted by the supervisory authorities. However, it is written nowhere. They opened a so-called secure wing to welcome a category of detainees with a particular profile. The problem is that it would be interesting to know who is entitled to define the profiles to finally decide to imprison. Because, by definition, a closed centre could not be considered like a prison and even more offer conditions of captivity that are harder than prisons. There is no doubt that the retention conditions applied in the secure wing in Vottem are similar to the prison system, embellished with total solitary confinement, although this process is illegal in accordance with the international law and conventions on the treatment of detainees.  The absence of rules automatically leads to a day to day programme and to repeated modifications that are destabilizing in the long term.
24/24 solitary confinement causes an unbearable nervous tension and makes the contacts with the guards particularly rough and conflictual. Because nothing justifies this type of treatment applied as a disciplinary sanction or a preventive measure to avoid recriminations of any kind seen the personality of the individual. Just like in prison, confinement remains the rule except that here there is no contact between the detainees and therefore neither social links nor solidarity to show each other, and to the weakest in particular. This prison structure based on maximum coercion provokes a constant stress accompanied with behavioural disorders, so much so that the guards themselves may feel the effects and hesitantly complain about them. The clash is never far away seen the tensions exacerbated by confinement and the absence of prospects. One comes to think that the installation, almost everywhere in the building, of remote surveillance equipment, cameras and microphones is a safeguard, an advantage for the detainees and an inconvenient for the guards. An advantage in the way that the actions are recorded and therefore are a testimony against or in favour in case of serious breach as it often happens in confinement places; an inconvenient for the guards to know that they are being examined and that they can not do what they would like to in case of acute crisis.
In any case, the current prison structure, with no predefined rules is a source of anxiety and it can represent an extension of the image of the Foreigners Office who is the real manager of this Belgian gulag.’

The Chambre du Conseil under high security

On Thursday 2nd October, Mr Larbaoui had to appear in front of the Chambre du Conseil in Mons for a liberation request introduced by his lawyer. He was brought to the trial handcuffed in a van who took the road to Mons with sirens on and with 2 cars of 10 policemen wearing bulletproof vests and rifles. And the Chambre du Conseil ordered the release of Mr Larbaoui!

But as usual, the Foreigners Office appealed against this decision, informing the court that a let pass by the Algerian embassy was ‘on its way’. It is to be noted that the Embassy currently refuses to deliver let passes and that different authorities came to ‘discuss’ with M Larbaoui to make him sign a paper asserting that he was willing to leave for  Algeria. This appeal could have suspensory effects on the deportation.

Mr Larbaoui was born in Algeria when the country still was a French department. He grew up in France where his family, wife and son included, are living and they have the French nationality!

Mr Larbaoui added:
‘One has to face the facts and conclude that all this ceremonial surrounded with a luxury of useless precautions (escort, praetorian guard and outstanding solitary confinement) make Belgium EVEN MORE INCREDIBLY RIDICULOUS! Since I was legally and legitimately released and wouldn’t therefore have to find myself in a closed centre and even less in Belgium but at home in France. You said arbitrary dirt, so spot the mistake!’

Last minute: Mr Larbaoui appears in front of the Chambre des accusations in Mons on October 14th 2014.

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