One of the jury members was expelled from the jury on Friday evening at the assize trial about the camping murder. The man may have expressed his opinion about the guilt or innocence of the accused in a question about Romuald Verburgh (35). The defense and the prosecution immediately asked for him to be removed from the jury. The court agreed.
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On Friday afternoon, the three accused were extensively questioned by chairman Bart Meganck. Afterwards, the jurors, the prosecutor and all lawyers were also given the opportunity to ask questions of the accused. Things went wrong with perhaps the very last question for Romuald Verburgh. The juror openly questioned the attitude of Verburgh, who denies his involvement in the murder.
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“I can’t imagine someone who is innocent helping to push a corpse into a suitcase and smear themselves with blood like that,” he said. Master Filip De Reuse, lawyer of Verburgh, immediately asked the chairman to remove the jury member from the people’s jury. Attorney General Serge Malefason agreed with that request and called the question tendentious. Alain Deltrude’s counsel also asked the jury member to challenge. Master Anthony Mallego referred to an earlier incident where the juror in question appeared to be making his views clear through hand gestures.
Show of bias
Chairman Bart Meganck briefly gave the jury member a chance to explain why he had asked the question in this way, but to no avail. “That’s actually saying too much. If I were to ask such questions, the lawyers would immediately jump right in and challenge me,” Meganck said.
After a brief deliberation, the court decided to replace the juror with the first deputy juror. “Because of that question, the jury member has unmistakably shown bias and can no longer judge objectively,” the interlocutory judgment sounded. Due to the incident, the jury now consists of six women and six men. “You should certainly not feel intimidated by this incident. If you are careful and ask normal objective questions, nothing can really go wrong”, the chairman addressed them briefly.