Video Politics

A few days ago, Flemish politician Filip Dewinter of the far-right Vlaams Belang put a video (Windows Media, 17 MB) on the Internet showing some criminals breaking into a car. The video shows two young criminals - minors - who first try to break into the car, and when they succeed, they start taking things out of it. At the end of the video, they just run away.

It seems like the video is taken during the day from behind a window, and according to Filip Dewinter, it is taken by some neighbours tired of the ongoing vandalism in their street, the Somersstraat in Antwerp. The street has a history of vandalism and crime, and city alderman Dirk Grootjans recently declared the neighbourhood a priority and 'hot spot'. Filip Dewinter calls the video a proof of the failure of the current policy of the current Antwerp city council, but police said that the video dates from 24 April 2004, more than one year ago, long before Dirk Grootjans made his statement.

Filip Dewinter says on his website that he put the video on the Internet in order to get more attention for the problem. However, according to Belgian law it is illegal to publish and distribute material that can identify criminals who are under age. Belgian police has therefore already started an investigation into the matter. When Filip Dewinter sought information about the possible consequences of putting the video on the Internet, he said he got different answers from different lawyers about whether it would be legal or not. And this is were the story relates to another story that happened a while ago in Seoul, the Dog Poop Girl.

It seems that if the criminals in Antwerp had been adults, according to Belgian law it would have been legal to put the video on the Internet, even if the criminals could be clearly identified from the video.