Marcel 0.16 sec
I am Marcel Vervloesem – I am an activist from Belgium with an international flavour. I was born in 1952 and the activities I concern myself with are aspects around human rights.
Okay, how did you get to be an activist in that area?
Marcel 0.38 sec
Well you see – as a young boy the injustice I saw around me interested me – so I was reading papers etc. and found a lot of cases so ripe with injustice that we had to do something about those. When I was 16 years old I attacked the Belgian Child Protection Services because of the horrible circumstances in children’s homes and with the children’s courts etc. – and I launched an attack on the Belgian minister of Justice under the title: “Belgian children’s care questioned!” And that has been the start of my activist life.
That is quite intense for a 16 year old. Why did this grab you so?
You see there were a lot of articles and a lot of discussion in those years – and the Belgian child protection services was in her infancy – so if found it a subject that was worth the effort – and since I grew up in a children’s home myself it concerned me ever so more. I found the attitude of the government who in the media always had this attitude like we have the best laws for protecting the children – we have great care facilities – we have a great judicial machine that checks and follows up great – and I knew from experience that this was false – en I found it necessary to start tearing that holy house down – and that is what I did – and I was surprised at the impact it had – as I never would have thought that the minister of justice would invite me within a week – it was a wave that happened – newspapers ran that article – is was on the radio – it was on TV and the minister invited me to talk about it - it created a lot of commotion – and as a matter of fact it was the starting point in the changes to the children’s protection laws – the law was amended – and new laws were made – the holy house was shaken to its core – and that was in fact the intention in this all
So that means that you reached your intended target and you could call it quits, but you didn’t do that?
Yeahhh, quitting – when you get results then you can quit – but it was like – there were so many issues in our country – that there were multiple matters to tackle for example, the horrible treatment of kids in children’s hospitals were kids were placed in isolation cells for 36 days up to 3 months – and the like – when we found out about this we decided to bring this to people’s attention – we publicly sued the children’s hospital – we notified the public of the goings on – it became a 3 year long process – and eventually the minister had to make a law clarifying the use of isolation cells. The hospital in question was closed down – a new department had to be started – so it had a few consequences attached to it – it had a change in law as a result – for the first time in Belgian history – a rulebook was made which had to be implemented in all psychiatric hospitals and prisons where children were held – in which it was decided that no child was allowed to be in an isolation cell for more than 2 days and a follow up control system to ensure those laws were adhered to. So that was the result of the first case
Wow, but by now you are no longer doing this by yourself?
No, in the beginning we did it with a small group of people of just alone – but in 1989 we decided to make our group – the media called us the group Morkhoven because it concerned kids from Morkhoven so that is how we got our name. In 1989 we took the form of an institution and started a foundation without profit – officially with chamber of commerce numbers and everything – So this gave us the opportunity to work from an official capacity.
What kind of cases have you been working on, fighting for so to speak?
A lot of cases. I had become custom for any issue that arose that shocked the public men contacted the Morkhoven Group – because Morkhoven was a group that dared to take action – that dared to attack – and dared to go into investigations that could last years. So people were afraid of the group. We have done a number of cases. For instance – at one point in time it was for Belgian and foreign wheelchair users not allowed to enter cinema’s with their wheelchairs – So this became an issue that started – because a workers rule from the Ministry of Work had erected – The arabendecision as we call it – it forbade to have loose items within an public space because of fire safety. Well what happened – there was a Baron with a children cinema in Belgium and he said “a wheelchair is an unattached/loose object – so wheelchair users are not allowed in – as you can imagine that cause quite the ruckus – and people contact the Morkhoven Group to start action in this issue – and that is what we did – it took us about three months before we could block the Baron – after which the minister had to change the work law and reissue that law again – and from that moment on wheelchair users were aloud in the cinema’s again.
You need some guts to do this kind of thing then?
Well you see, someone has to do it. Ehhh, the question a lot of people as: why do you do that, or why have you done that? But our thoughts on that is – someone has to do it. It can’t be for instance that children are put in isolation cells for months on end – because some doctor decides that – and in the same way it can’t be that wheelchair users because they have an handicap can’t visit a cinema no more - it can’t be that in children’s hospitals chaos rules etc. – so someone had to take that step and say “untouchable or not”, “justice or no justice” – if there are issues they need to be taken on – and take the judicial steps – and that eventually led to a plethora of cases that kept coming in faster and faster and where the Group Morkhoven had to be called upon to assist continually – and then the media picks up that the Group Morkhoven is involved in the case of the wheelchair users, in the case of the children’s isolation cells etc. – so they see us as a very active bunch – and there are a lot of people that needed the Morkhoven Group and that is how it grew.
Ok, so it becomes more and more continuously or is it become less and less – do you see the amount of people contacting you grow or lessen?
No they kept coming more and more people needed us – is was like this – that het became files that needed an x-factor specialisation bv: The Belgian mental healthcare system where psychiatric patients in the institutions are collected that had no say in the bigger picture – that has caused quite a stir and that is why the Morkhoven Group got involved actively in this – and that had as result that the ministry had to take the decision to erect a user’s agreement – confidence person – the system of a confidence person etc. – so that psychiatric patients had a lawful representative so that the institution could tell them to do this or that without ok – so there became a groundwork where the patients had some form of protection – because they could raise mistreatment – on the other hand it was also so that the Group Morkhoven did their own investigations – so if there were complaints then the investigators of the Morkhoven group went around to visit that institution – as you can image we were not really seen in high regard there – so if they received a letter of the Group Morkhoven that Morkhoven had received a complaint that we were taking seriously and were going to investigate – yeah that had an impact within that institution – because those difficult group Morkhoven was coming – and that was often enough to take care of the issue. We started to notice that if we were just sending a letter to a patient or prisoner with the logo of the holding of the Morkhoven Group on the letter – that the institution became a lot more careful – oh no that person has contact with the Group Morkhoven – they are coming – that is going to cause havoc - and most of the time the issue was taken care of before we got there.
All part of the game, he
You were talking before about if something shocking happened in Belgium – Then we have to talk about Dutroux – we kind of have to – in what way was the Morkhoven Group involved there?
Well you see – the Group Morkhoven had noticed in 1989 that there was an issue with missing children in Belgium – that a lot of children disappeared – children that fled psychiatric wards were never found again, not even a trace – so in Belgium there was very little to no attention at all for an issue that was taboo – because in Belgium nothing went wrong – to this day nothing goes wrong in Belgium – but that was a problem – in 1989 we wrote in our statutes that the Morkhoven Group has the duty to help locate missing people if we were asked – that resulted of course that a number of missing person cases found its way to the Morkhoven Group and we have investigated these – And through one of those cases we eventually ended up in the Dutroux case – and that is how we got involved in three cases that came straight from the Dutroux case. We have investigated that – we have found 7 missing persons that had been missing for a number of years – we have done a lot of investigating already – we had meetings with the parents of the murdered children – we studied the entire Dutroux case – and when the investigation was still going on – there were a number of police officers that found it all so shocking that they manipulated the case file – what happened you ask – a police officer has copied the case file while the investigation was still running – with as result – that the file found its way to the Morkhoven Group – well that caused a lot of commotion in Belgium because by law the file Dutroux could have been closed because the investigation could have been compromised and thrown out due to judicial mistakes – an investigation is secret – and that is why nothing is allowed to leak out about the investigation – let alone a whole case file. They have done a house search with us because they had suspicions that the Morkhoven Group probably had a copy and would be aware of the situation. They did not find what they were looking for – we had gotten it on the Saturday in our mailbox – after an anonymous phone call that told we really should empty our mailbox on a Saturday – and that is what we did – and there we found 3 cd’s with 600.000 pages on the Dutroux file – so all the photos – coroner reports – the dig reports – which of course was like a golden source for our organisation – but because of the fact – the strange way how we got the files in the first place I brought it to safety straight away – we couldn’t leave the apartment because I believed that my house was being watched at that moment – but I had a bird cage in my garden with a number of birdhouses in it – and I had hidden the Dutroux file in there – Men looked all around the house but found nothing – they stood at the birdcage and complimented me on my birdcage and birds – and then left again. But the Dutroux file was hidden in those birdhouses in the birdcage in Marcel’s garden.
Fantastic! But if there is 600.000 pages worth of information – where there things in there that were never released in the main stream media – things they kept hidden from us?
Yes absolutely - that what the media actually covered of the Dutroux case - was what they wanted to let the population know. There were three problems – on the one hand you had the Dutroux file which was so shocking that public opinion could not really grasp it - how was it possible that so many children disappeared and were murdered - what was going on here - so the file Dutroux was actually a base of information that justice needed to conduct the research - there were a lot of other data that could be relevant for further research on the networks - without a doubt - and a third aspect of that Dutroux file was the connector links - drugs - arms - the fleet - car thefts etc. – were traceable. Now, investigating officer Connerot was a very passionate researcher, and was one of the few magistrates in Belgium that still knew his job and also performed his job the correct way - but we already knew in advance that Connerot would be stopped - because he ate spaghetti with the parents of the murdered children - so a journalist took a picture of it - that picture ended up in the judiciary - and men stated that the investigating judge was not impartial anymore, because he sits with the parents to eat a plate of spaghetti - so he was removed from the case. At this moment we realised that the Dutroux case was being manipulated and that there was a bigger picture that was not allowed to surface. We also saw a number of certain experienced investigators – Connerot had a team of researchers around him that were experienced and were getting results – losing their jobs – so basically everyone that was getting to the bottom of things were pushed aside – as a matter of fact they kept hanging around the Weinstein issue – there had been a dig at Weinstein – Weinstein was the man of the car thefts etc. – Nihoul was involved – but really nothing happened with the case. For instance men had coroner reports and it was said that the kids died of hunger – so Michelle Martin apparently had forgotten to feed the kids when Dutroux was already in custody – well actually there are two coroner reports – one was manipulated to make believe that they died of hunger – and the second report is a very clear report with foot’s etc. which shows that the kids had a very different cause of death – this was confirmed when the bodies were dug up. Well The Sprout, the weekly magazine The Sprout did publish a number of foot’s and reports to show that “look what is going on in Belgium”, “they are lying about the Dutroux case”. They had all the copies of the magazine removed from the stores – they were scared of all the things that were coming out now. In the case Dutroux more victims started talking. For instance the X-cases etc. – so the department of Justice basically pulled a trick on the people of Belgium to get them to calm down and where everyone fell for – they stated that first the Dutroux case had to be taken care of – we are going to bring Dutroux to court – that needs to go first – and then we will look at all the other files like the X-cases etc. – the other files as they were called – but nothing has ever materialized there. The Dutroux court case had finished and the first reaction of the Belgian people was: ahh the Dutroux case is finished and the other files are with the procureur general in Luik – but the procureur general in Luik never took those files into investigation – and even though all these years have gone by these files have still not been investigated.
I have a quick question; you were talking about a different cause of death
Was that ever released, as far as I know of the cause of death was
No – the cause of death was published by the weekly magazine “The Sprout” – foot’s and everything – and that caused a wave of criticism from the Ministry of Justice – because Justice stated that such photo’s should not be shown in public, it showed a lack of respect to the murdered children – but what really scared justice was that the photo’s would shock the public opinion – and then men would start questioning the story that was told that they died of hunger, but we see something very different here – that was what was really scaring them – that the Dutroux case had to be reopened due to public opinion. There was also a report from Piet Eeckhout, a German reporter from ZDF based out of Brussels who made a report over the dead witness in the Dutroux Case – certain journalists had come to the conclusion that 27 witnesses in the Dutroux case all died shortly after another – Justice explained it as suicides – traffic accidents etc. but in reality people were starting to ask questions about it – and the big question came when a member of the Morkhoven Group – Gina Pardeans who had been given the assignment to bring certain information to Switzerland – in a missing children’s case of a German boy in connection with other cases in the Netherlands – so this lady comes back from Switzerland after she has completed her assignment – and is arrested at the airport by orders of a procureur general and she is immediately questioned about the disappearing of Manuel Shadwald a German boy – two days later she starts receiving phone threats – mechanical voices that start to talk – her internet is being sabotaged etc. – so she goes and files charges with the Belgian police force in Galmaarde – she tells her story – they write it all up – Morkhoven puts investigators on the case to see where those threats are originating from – and two days later Gina Pardeans is dead. She got into an accident that night and drove her car into a bridge an died on the spot – and even though there was the filing of the death threats two days earlier de Belgian Justice department ruled it an traffic accident. Peter Eeckhout took the case of Gina in his report on the 27 witness deaths in the Dutroux Case – much to the chagrin of the Belgian Justice department. What did they do? They have attacked the reporter and told him to stop, in case he would continue he would no longer be allowed to work in this country. So the pressure – the intimidation – and the provoking of: you need to stop with releasing this info – that came from the ministry of Justice – So justice had reasons to do this. The reason was that the public was not allowed to know what was happening and how deep this case went – and on the other hand – the international attention that Belgium got due to this case was causing Belgium great distress. The moment that the Zandvoort case broke of the tortured and murdered children – the children on the CD-ROM’s etc. – and then the case Temse Madeira – around the same time the Dutroux case broke – was off course a problem for Belgium because it resulted in a very negative image to the outside world of Belgium – what the hell: Morkhoven broke a case with over 100.000 victims – There is the Temsa Medeira case with tens of victims – Multiple murdered children in the Dutroux case – What is happening in Belgium? So to keep face with the rest of the European Union and to show that we are doing something – we are taking action – we do what we can – but that was not the case because Belgium has done nothing to fight child pornography networks or other networks – on the contrary – the moment other countries asked Belgium to assist in a joint arrest effort – so simultaneous actions and house searches in England, Spain, Italy etc. was Belgium the only country that did not comply – Belgium used to promise yeah we will join in the coordinated efforts in multiple places in Belgium – but what happened – in England, Spain and Italy the police took action – but the magistrate that was supposed to lead the operation in Belgium had gone to dinner – with the result – that several hours later the first house searches could take place so the perpetrators would have heard the news through TV that tens of house searches were taking place. That is typical of Belgium – those are things that only happen here.
That is horrible. But then you work together with other countries – for instance with Holland?
Yes and No. A typical example is the Sandwort case. The moment that Morkhoven hit the Dutch city of Zandvoort – Holland was requesting Belgium – They were asking the Belgians to search the Morkhoven premises because Morkhoven had taken a lot of evidence from Zandvoort – they wanted to know what was happening – What did those Morkhoven guys take – what are they working on – who are they looking for – who did they find – how do they know about this case? – So they come to search the house and find nothing – that moment they agree that on Tuesday the Dutch police together with the Belgian police would return to receive the Zandvoort CD-ROMs – but we had a meeting within the group and decided that if we would give them the data nothing would happen with – and then we would have a problem – a gigantic problem – because then there are 100.000 victims that are not getting investigated – so people were saying – Marcel you know what you should do – Let the police come but tell them they are not getting anything – so Tuesday at 11.00 the police showed up – and by coincidence that day I had a Portuguese reporter visiting me – so those police officers show up – and I tell them, I am sorry boys but you are not getting anything – you can leave again – that was quite the shock for the justice department – that activist that tells us to go and you are not getting anything – that was not happening – so the court in Turnhout decides that Vervloesem has to be arrested – but that reporter from Portugal was still with us – and of course this was news – so he goes to his news van and reports it – so what happens – within two hours of it being reported – the whole neighbourhood was littered with international press – so tens upon tens of satellite vans were at the ready – dozens of journalists – about 60 or 70 journalists had descended – what of course a huge issue was for the Belgian justice department because they wanted to arrest an activist whilst the international media was at the ready – eventually they took me in – all filmed by the international press – and then it was decided by the justice – you have to release him immediately because this is turning into an enormous scandal for Belgium – you have arrested an internationally known activist – do you know what you are doing? – So that had to return me but at that point my house was under siege – you could not get anywhere near – the police had closed all the streets because of the power cables belonging to the camera teams etc. – so then I gave a press conference – and again that was quite the shock to the Belgian justice department of course – I gave that press conference that night and then the international media left again. So what happened? Well we gave that data material to Holland, of course after we took copies of course – and then the Belgian justice department stated – ahhh you are giving that to Holland – so then you trafficked child pornography – the fact alone that the investigator that found the material and gave it to the Dutch Justice Department was enough reason for the Belgian Justice Department to state that I was in possession of child pornography and that I would be legally charged. And that is what they did. For years they have gone through legal proceedings and in the media it was said that “Vervloesem had kinderporno”, “Vervloesem verstopte kinderporno”, “Vervloesem weigert het af te staan” – hundreds of stories – and all I said was: I did my duty. What did I do as a result of those articles – I thought well if that is how you want to play this – then let’s make 100 copies of the CD-ROMs and we distribute them internationally – we send them to a number of countries – to a number of police forces internationally – they were send all the way to America, we gave it to France – We sent it to the king of Belgium, the President of France, The president of the Republic of Germany – The queen of England – they all received a copy – and Belgium – Yeah there stood Belgium – and that is something they have never forgiven us for – because they could not make it go away anymore now – and in all these countries they were investigating these CD-ROM’s which was something they had tried to prevent – you see – and in reality we circumvented the Belgian Justice – but then it became clear that even though they had the CD-ROM’s in Belgium they were not doing anything with it – so what did I do – I gave it to the Belgian King – that made the front page of all the papers – sometimes 3 to 4 pages long – Vervloesem gives child pornography to the Belgian King – De kings calls the Minister of Justice – The minister of Justice states on the news that this needs to be investigated – it went to the procureur general – and there it disappeared – you see – the high council of justice did an investigation into the CD-ROMs and the high council stated – Mr Vervloesem – the charge you filed is justified – the CD-ROMs have disappeared from the desk of the procureur general in Antwerp. That is how Belgium takes care of things things.
Interviewer: So that was the end of the investigation?
Marcel: That it was indeed, the end of the investigation because no-one has the authority to challenge the procureur general. So the high council of Justice – the department that controls the Belgian police forces – confirmed that the material (CD-ROM’s) had disappeared but would not tell us anything else – well we can’t do much more about this because we are not authorised to challenge the procureur general – who this way was being protected – and could not be held accountable.
You must run into a lot of things that make you stomach turn, things you think that are too horrible to contemplate – how do you keep going – what drives you?
You see, there are a lot of moments that you see something horrible – but you have to work with it – let me say – for instance a child that has been murdered and is on that CD-ROMs – then it is important for us to trace the identity of that child – we have to work with the material we have – and of course that is not easy – I always had the habit – I do that, but at night I close that off – when I come home I close that part off – I try to relax – watch a little TV – or have a drink with friends – or there is another meeting of something like that – but you put it aside you see – but you are always confronted with it again of course - a day later a journalist will call to discuss something – or you meet up with a parent – and everything floods back of course – you are continuously confronted with those cases – raped baby’s – children hung from chains – barbed wire around their bodies so that they are cut through etc. – you are always confronted with that – but by pushing it aside – or NY saying we can’t watch that – that is not a solution either, it will not get you results – as a matter of fact someone has to do it – and have the balls to prosecute – that’s what we did – we have distributed it across the world – but those are images – they are not easy – but je are confronted with it – for instance a child that was dug up and things like that – so for us every detail is important – you see – the way it was buried – the way a photo was taken –where was the photo taken – those are for us all elements to focus our investigation to achieving that one goal – so for instance a photo with child pornography on it – we enlarge that – and then we see all these elements – a carton box with advertising on it – or a sticker of an electrical company with the name of the firm – so all these details are looked at and help us with our investigation.
Are there people that have been accused and have gone through the legal proceedings and convicted for their crimes
Yes indeed – for instance in the Temsa Madeira case we have tracked people internationally – in Holland, Germany and Portugal for instance – we have identified 10’s of victims – there have been trials in Portugal, Belgium and Holland – Al those criminals have been convicted. In the Zandvoort case there have been several results – like in Germany, England, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway – there have been arrests there as well – so in fact results are being made – but the problem is – investigating it is not enough – nor is raising the issue – you have to be able to use the systems that were created for it – and that is an issue – in a lot of countries people are shocked – they think it does not happen here – men pushes it aside – no country wants to be associated with a case like Dutroux or Zandvoort – everybody pushes that aside – even the people themselves – as long as it happens at the neighbours – or a village a little bit away – then it is not so bad – but that is a reality that comes with this line of work.
But is there no way to do this internationally – in Belgium there is the Morkhoven group but are there groups like that in the rest of Europe you could work together with?
You see – the moment Morkhoven started looking after the missing children there was nothing anywhere – no country had a hotline – no country had a hotline for missing persons – there was no cell fighting child pornography anywhere – that simply did not exist – from the moment the Temse Madeira case broke internationally and the Zandvoort case that shocked the international public because it spread over so many countries that men decided that action had to be taken – because this concerned international material and that could be from our country – and then everyone started setting up hotlines – including one in Belgium at the federal police - all those hotlines were starting to investigate en fight the battle – now it happens all the time – you read that often in the papers – that they stop a children’s network and in Italy etc. – but this never used to be that way – there was – and no matter how sad this sounds – a need for a Zandvoort – a Dutroux – a Temsa Madeira – before the world woke up.
It is unbelievable – I am just sitting here listening and I am struggling to keep it together – how you do that is amazing – uhmm you said that people could do more to help you – because I am sure you could use some help:
You see – we can do very little with the help of people – why? – because an investigation happens in teams – so a missing person is traced with a team – the more people get involved – the harder it is going to be to run the trace – so for instance – if you place adverts – Morkhoven group with a photo with the caption missing, please send info to Morkhoven – then we get loads of leads of psychics - people who claim to have seen something – this takes months of investigations – whilst if you were to tackle it properly – you start asking questions – you go see the parents – of they come to you – you ask about the child – was it afraid – was it brave – would it go with strangers easily or not – were there problems at school – did anything happen with friends – those are hundreds of questions that need to be asked so you can analyse – this child did not wander off on its own account – it’s like – we make a file and ask tens of questions and then we start our investigation – where was the child last seen – what was different – we talk to neighbours – was there a strange car – did people linger here the last few weeks that were out of place – it’s a meeting of 1000’s of little details and they become one case file – and then you start from that case file – for instance you check a license plate – or a van of a certain make and model – and then you start there – and of course that takes months before such an investigation is finished – and you can tell a parent that they can come and collect their child – or you can tell them we found you child – you can find him there or there – so that is a lot of work – a lot of people say how can you find those missing children – but that is because all those aspects that are so very important – that is also very hard to describe because we would still be here tomorrow – it is actually a sort of profile that you make – and from there you start. For instance in a child pornography case we noticed that a number of children whilst there was an eagle on the background – so for us it was very important that we found that eagle – and people laughed at that – sort of like sure you can find that eagle – so what happened – the researchers went into all the video stores where people sold these porno magazines and pornvideo’s etc. – and they literally looked through hundreds of magazines to look at photo’s and video’s till they found a picture with that eagle on the background – so then we looked at who published that magazine – where was it published – who is the publisher – and then we investigate – and eventually we ended up at a studio in Utrecht – studio the Pauw - where these kids were being photographed and filmed – you see – it is a lot of collecting of all sorts of information – a lot of shadowing work – observations – chases – all of that kind of thing – so it is not really something you could do for a couple of hours – it takes months.
That sounds very intense en in some way a little exciting as well?
Well exciting – you know what you are getting into – so you know the end goal – so what is the end goal of the assignment – that is all that matters – but exciting – you know sometimes it is really really boring work as well – you get into all sort surroundings – and of course nobody knows anything of course – you can’t not expect a brothel owner to say – yeah, they sold that kid and I took it to Romania – nobody knows anything – so the moment we arrive we have already done the groundwork (that is one) – but we also know how to look and who is involved (and that is two) – and we make us physically known – we go into these people houses and businesses and say – well sir – excuse us but we have a little problem – we are from Morkhoven and there is a minor missing and your name was mentioned in connection with that but I am sure you are unaware of anything – you know nothing – but that is not a problem – because we will investigate and get to the bottom of this – but it would be a shame if anything happened to the child because that the police will want to talk to you – that is the psychological aspect of the investigation – people get nervous – or they jump in their car and drive to their accomplice – which of course is being followed by a second team that is standing by – because they see team 1 leave – but the second team is ready to step in – or we wiretap their phones in the worst case scenario – it often happens that multiple parties are wiretapping someone’s phone – we have had it happen that the police is there – the national security guys are there – and that Morkhoven is there with three surveillance teams – so that happens all at the same time – so it really is a strange world. I have also been involved in a case that was about childpornography etc. – so we were in that building – and at one point I get into the hallway of the building and a postman arrives and he says to me, excuse me sir I have upstairs their mail, so I say, no worries give it to me and I will give it to my friend so all of a sudden I had those pornvideo’s in my hands – it could not be any better. And in a different case there was someone who had a network and who had to move – so Morkhoven helped him move – so in other words – we were able to see everything and check everything – but all those things just seem to happen. It is kind of an activity that is the exception in Belgium but one that we have used for years in Belgium up to today. But the most important part is – it has to be done – that is just it.
Are you ever worried – because we off course we have the story of your research colleque that mysteriously died in an accident – are you ever worried about that – because I can image you are not universally loved within certain parts of society.
No I am not worried – they have tried once to drive us into the canal – and they succeeded – but that is where it ended. We visited that person at their house and they was no longer interested to try and to that again – but ummm worries not really – I look at it differently – if I walk in the street and someone hits me with a car then I can die – or I can get a heart attack and can die – so that can happen and I choose not to worry about that – If you would look at it like that there is no way you could do this job. For instance if you have to enter a bar where you think they are going to kill me then you stay outside – but then you can’t get the info either. So you see – you just enter – it takes some guts – just to say I am here for this and you are going to help me – that is the way of talking – that also explains why in the German media they have a report which they say – this activist is really to the point – he says it the way it is – and then comes out with the answers – but that is the way it is - how do you ay – even the biggest gangster has to respect you at that point – and you him – you need to treat him as a friend at that moment – so you can’t walk up to him and say “you kidnapped someone” because that creates a hostile environment – if you say “you are aware of who kidnapped him and you can change that” it creates a totally different atmosphere and that forces them to respect you and then they start to talk.
Especially if they did not do it themselves off course
Well most of them will blame someone else of course – so it often happens that they will say things like – ohhh that boy that is right – I have seen him in this bar in Rotterdam – then when you go to Rotterdam they will say “no we never seen anyone and we heard he is in Amsterdam” – And then you go to Amsterdam and they will say “no no no he is in Eindhoven” – and when you get to Eindhoven to the first guy and you tell him “you send us on a goose chase didn’t you” – but that is the way it happens sometimes
Where do you think is the source of all of this – where is the core of why this happens?
I think that it is predominantly in the important circles – the fact this exists and happens all over the world – in Holland, Belgium, Spain, Italy etc. – so they are active – and it proves they have an umbrella somewhere – if you make the material it needs to have a market – otherwise there is no point in making it in the first place – so you have buyers – who are those buyers – the porn industry – they sell the material to those who want it the most – so it is a unwanted collaboration cycle – there are people that want the material – there are people that want to film it – there are people that want to make money on it – then there are people that “you can’t touch that because it has to continue” (they trade in child pornography) – then there are people that need the kids – the material – they are afraid that they will be identified – so in fact it is a chain of data – and if you know that a 15minute porno recording from a child will cost you about €300.00 – if you torture the child it will go up to €800 or €900 for about 10 minutes – and if you murder the child in front of the camera it could go up to millions of euro’s – so the normal civilian can’t pay for that – but there is a market for that – and that market needs product – and we know now that in Europe we are talking about a billion euro industry - per year that is – so if they want to continue making that – they need kids – they need victims – and that is why kids are still being kidnapped – still being abused and tortured – still being photographed in the schools etc. – so it has become a business – a child at this moment is time is nothing more than a commodity in Europe – if tomorrow someone was to say – I am looking for a blond child – then within the networks they start looking for a blond child – and how do they do that? – very simple – somewhere on a street they will park a number of cars – they see a kid play soccer or something – they call him to the car – whilst being photographed by another car – they take the pictures in such a way that they always have landmarks in them – like a garage number – a gate – a driveway etc. – and those photos are shown to the interested partner – and if that person says that he is interested – the child will disappear shortly afterwards.
But if we are talking about that kind of money then there are only a select few that can pay that – so it should be easy to stop this then?
Yeah it could be stopped – but the problem is that for instance – let’s say – a normal person buys the material – he exchanges it – he trades it – they trade it amongst each other – they contact each other – in Holland that happens through the pedo magazine Martijn – and tens of paedophiles are connected to that – they talk amongst each other – so it goes like – he man, I have this cool film of this boy, are you interested – and that is how it goes – from one person to another – and it is very rare that you can stop a large arsenal – because it moves all the time – it goes in all directions – it happens in Belgium - it happens in Germany – you find it in Holland- then in Tsjechie – etc. – it is a business that is unstoppable – the only thing you can do is to once in a while really hit a network hard – cause it serious damage – like we did in the Zandvoort case – so that you hit them hard and derail that network – and you charge the criminals – that will result in internal infighting – where they are killing each other off – in the Zandvoort case, the head guy was shot dead in Italy – because they were scared he was going to talk – because he had been tracked – and then they will take care of things internally – but you can’t stop this until all countries are not in an agreement – if all the countries within the European Union were to act as one – then you could do something – but that is not the way it is.
But that will probably never happen – because the people that would have to sign that agreement into power are most likely the same people that order the material in the first place – so a treaty like that would never happen
No no no you often notice that men often – once people get important results – they try to bring you into discredit – they start to accuse you – you are the paedophile – or you are looking for that material – you are a gangster or a criminal – they try to make you the kind of person you are investigating in the first place.
So they are looking for a scapegoat
Yes like for instance in the Dutroux case that the police agent spoke to – and there he went – that Connerot had dinner – he is out – so in those circles the “the good guys” are being discredited to get them off the investigation – so that they will stay out of the investigation themselves – and often the ministry of justice helps with that because they benefit from that as well – the media also helps with that – and why – for instance the Belgian media – that is a shame on its own – I always said that – the Belgian media is a concern – and is owned by only three people –the whole Belgian media –so they are subsidized by the state – and the moment you ask for subsidies you are no longer free – because you become dependent on those if you want to exist as a TV-station or as weekly magazine – in other words – the state controls the media – the head editors are accountable to the board of directors – the board of directors is accountable to the owner – and they can say what is and what isn’t published – that is how the public gets misinformed.
But with the internet that should get out far easier right?
But that does happen – if you look at the internet and check what is out there – then you see that the internet has become the new medium – so that what you don’t find in msm then you find it on the internet – so in that way it is a huge advantage – for instance a French man publishes something about a case in France that can now be read everywhere – so in fact the internet has been a breakthrough – and people are scared by that – that is why they are starting to talk within the European Union to control the internet – because it is a limitless medium – you can publish what you want – the other aspect of the internet however is that the trade in children uses the internet – you can find child pornography on the internet – you can find the orders for children on the internet – so there are cons and pros there.
How do you see your work going forward
You see – I think our most important work has been done –as far as we are concerned – we have proven it exists – we woke a lot of countries to this – a lot of hotlines were made – laws were changed etc. – and people are really attacking this – in other countries groups like us were established that do what we do – there is a lot of movement in this – so from that point of view we are done. On the other hand we still have cases that come in because we believe it to be important that those people that are not heard still get a listening ear – that is important to us – and that is how we still do what lies within our power
In what way do you think the Vatican plays a role in all of this?
I think that you need to bring the Vatican back to the middle ages – if you see that the church always stated that “we bring the message of god” – the message of Jesus – you see that they used to have witch-hunts – burned people at the stake – condemned them – then you know what happened to that church in history – now in relation to the sexual abuse that keeps revealing itself more and more – that involve priests – and where even a bishop is involved in – that is a sad state of affairs – but that is something that has been happening for years – and the church is of course shocked that this is now all coming out – that people are starting to talk – that victims are starting to talk etc. – the church tries – through of course pressure of the Vatican – to give compensation to the victims – several justice departments have started investigations – in Belgium also – into the church – to their involvement – they searched the houses of cardinals etc. – and then you see in the news that what the case against the church is related to – the interviews with the victims etc. – that a cleaning lady threw all the case files into the trashbin because she thought it was old paper – the case that was being run against the church in our country is already in legal disrepute – that there were faults in the procedures – fault that can be used by the good lawyers that will represent the church –So I think that the Vatican has stated to itself – yes there is an issue within the church – in a number of countries – we want it to stop – there need to be rules – there needs to be supervision – the complaints need to be taken seriously – and I think that the Vatican showcases this because it has no other choice – you can’t pretend to not know anything or hear anything if you are the Vatican or the pope. If the criticism of 100.000 people is not heard – so the church has to take action – and what do they do they are tackling the issues – both with the priests and the institutions of brothers and sisters and everywhere they are – there needs to be a compensation for the victims – but I am afraid that one the freshness of this issue is gone – because something else will take its place – that it will disappear – the compensation etc. – you can’t organise a “second scandal church”- because if they arm themselves against it – they know where it will come from – they know how the public will react – and they know how to handle the public – and that is what comes out of the Vatican – the Vatican gives direction to the cardinals and bishops and they direct priests etc. – so all the guidelines are coming out of the Vatican – and the last few months more and more scandals are coming out of the Vatican all the time the last few months – what is true and what isn’t I don’t know – I can’t really start an investigation within the Vatican – We should be able to I suppose – but I fear that it is an evil that is large – that tens upon tens of priests are involved – a lot of good priests won’t be – that will be dragged through the mud – as a matter of speech – so it is a difficult issue – and how should it be resolved – there is no real answer for that of course – it is hard to put a supervisor in every church – that would not resolve anything – you could put a controller in every monastery but that would not resolve anything – so I think that the people that were victims –by talking – by notifying – and by talking about the case – have forced a gigantic breakthrough – and I hope that the church will get a clean slate – in these situations – but I fear that it will be a very large operation which was run by the media and will disappear shortly
In your research have you found direct links to the Vatican – or the Belgian Church or further then that?
No not straight to the Vatican, I can’t say that – what we did find was direct links to a bishop – we had a victim 18 years ago that was abused by a Belgian bishop – and now – all these years later – that bishop was made public and he left for France – but that was happening 18 years ago – so if a bishop can do those kind of things – I wander if there is anyone who can’t
That is true. We were talking about Michelle Martin and the church and the state
You see I think that you can – I always had the strong suspicion that – but of course I can’t prove it – the strange thing about Belgium is – that all those people that were involved – like Michelle Martin – Monsieur van Gheluwe etc. – that they all leave for a monastery after a scandal broke – and preferably a monastery in France – well concerning Michelle Martin – I assume that she won’t be welcome anywhere – so they need to find a solution – she was eligible for early release – as stated in the Lejeune Law – so they had to do something about it – what could they do with Michelle Martin – they could not release her into the masses – that could not happen – so they needed to find a solution – and that solution of course happened to be the Church – the church and its monastery’s – with her options – the closed monastery’s etc. – so Michelle Martin left for that monastery – but the strange thing in this case is – that there could be the suspicion that there is a collaboration between the church and the state – like – we will get this Michelle Martin issue of your hands – so we are helping you – on the other hand we have the issue of the case against the church – and you control that – so maybe we can get to a deal – we take Michelle Martin – you make that case disappear –
Does that happen a lot do you think?
I think that happens all the time – it happens all the time – partly because the magistrate in Belgium is called Politics – so that is an issue on its own – Every minister of Justice can appoint party members to magistrates and reseachjudge etc. – so in the case there is an issue that is politically sensitive and gets confronted – then it’s just one simple phone call to the magistrate so say – hey you remember – you got that job because of me – and we have a small problem – that is why we are contacting you – so those kind of dodgy going on’s will continue – it is inevitable – that is also the reason for the lack of trust in the judicial system – for instance – in Vlaanderen (Belgium) a drug grower is arrested with a hemp plantation of thousands of plants – that man will walk on procedural mistakes – within 3 days a small dealer in some home gets arrested with 2 or 3 grams on him – and goes to jail for 6 months – so you have to ask yourself – what is the point of the judicial system – if you then hear that that same grower is arrested again and walks again on a procedural mistake – then we should really start to think, what is happening here, something is not quite right. You also see that the department of Justice is the only organ – I have always stated that – they want to control everything and everyone but who is controlling them
Something to add – we can talk for hours – but I think that the citizens have to start realizing that we live in a society where citizens have next to no rights – everything is orgestrated centrally – everything is forced on us – and we have to keep giving our rights away – we have to live by the laws – we have to adhere to them – we have to do all sorts of things but the question is. How free is the citizen within society – who decides what he can do – who decides what he can do with his family – where he is allowed to go – who decides this – if we look at all the rules that are coming – for instance here in Belgium is the Gaslaw – they call it the gaslaw – that is the law to combat certain criminal activities – for instance 6 months ago they launched this law – and the political parties are very excited about about it – so what is happening – de local counties are using that law – civil servants are appointment that have to make sure that law is followed – so this 14 year old student is sitting on the pavement of the church in Mechelen eating his sandwich and gets a €250.00 fine because there are crumbs on the floor – that is the gaslaw – in other words – a kid that throws a snowball – which was fine when we were kids – can now get a fine because of that law – our rights are being taken down – and the answer that we get from the political parties is that is all to combat crime – now I am asking myself – how is a 12 or 16 year old throwing snowballs a crime – where is the crime when a child eats his sandwich on the steps of the church – you see and that is when you see how society is evolving – because the government wants more and more control – wants to tell the citizens how to behave – they say ”You shall do what we tell you to do” – so – I think that if we continue down this road – that within 20 years not a single person will be free and that the country will be one giant prison – children can’t be children no more – people can’t be people no more – families can’t be families no more – and then we have to ask ourselves – in whose interest is that - think that the freedom of the individual – despite the agreement on the rights of humanity – that the freedoms will be more and more curbed and that within a short period from now – without us even knowing about it – will be gone
Besides that what you have told us – is there anything else you want to add
I think I need to tell the listeners to say that everyone that has a problem or issue needs to be brave enough to come out with it – that is an important message – and secondly – that you have to try and do something about it – it is not the case that a worldwide problem can be fixes by a small group (Morkhoven) – that has to work day and night – to resolve that – you can’t expect a small group to do that – so people that are confronted by it have to rally together – by starting to react – we are seeing it happening – we see for instance the Dutch case with the church – we see that in the Belgian case with the church – we are noticing that with the missing children – that there are now charities in several countries for missing children – that there are now hotlines for children and parents to call – to mediate for the kids – so a lot has happened – people need to realise that it is now – that it has happened because people fought for it – and they have to themselves – when they are in these issues – be prepared to make the first step – that is very important – and that is the message we are trying to bring – because we might be activists – we won’t live forever – so there is going to come a time where we won’t be here anymore – and then there will still be issues that need to be tackled – so in fact “PEOPLE WAKE UP”
It was an absolute honour to talk to you today – thank you for this interview
You are welcome