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ADMIN posted a blog entry in Geo News BlogBRUSSELS: A mystery that has troubled Belgium for over 30 years may be solved after a deathbed confession by a former policeman that he was one of the ?Crazy Brabant Killers?, who left 28 people dead in a bizarre string of robberies in the early 1980s. Officials on Monday confirmed reports that detectives have been working on the new lead for months and were optimistic about finally identifying the group, also called the ?Nivelles Gang?. Its bloody, three-year spree has long fuelled conspiracy theories involving right-wing plots and official cover-ups during the era of the Cold War. With members dubbed ?The Giant? and ?The Killer?, a getaway driver known as ?The Old Man?, and possibly other accomplices, the gang terrorised towns in Brabant province around Brussels. They staged over a dozen raids, often on supermarkets, sometimes taking barely petty cash but gratuitously gunning down customers, staff, and even children. In 1985, after killing eight people at a store they burst into wearing grotesque face paint and disguises, they vanished as abruptly as they had appeared three years earlier. At the weekend, a man told broadcaster VTM that his brother, a retired policeman in Aalst near Brussels, confessed to him as he lay dying two years ago that he was the tall suspected ringleader of the gang who came to be known as ?The Giant?. ?In the beginning I was in denial because I really struggled with it,? the unnamed man sobbed on camera.beginning I was in denial because I really struggled with it,? the unnamed man sobbed on camera. ?But today I can say formally that this is my brother.? Newspapers published archive photo-fits from 1980s ?wanted? posters that once papered the country along with off-duty snaps of the towering, bespectacled former special forces gendarme.1980s ?wanted? posters that once papered the country along with off-duty snaps of the towering, bespectacled former special forces gendarme. ?I hope for the relatives of the victims that we can close this chapter soon,? Interior Minister Jan Jambon said on Monday. Ministers have convened investigators to review the new evidence. ?YEARS OF LEAD? A former Belgian lawmaker who took part in a parliamentary inquiry into the killing spree said suggestions of involvement by police officers were previously ignored by investigators. At the time, the proficiency of the killers in handling weapons and evading capture raised such suspicions. Despite the possible identification, the motives of the gang remain unclear. Local media said the suspect was dismissed in 1981 from the Diana Group, an elite police commando unit. The confession may revive suspicions about shadowy establishment support for the ?Killers? during Europe?s ?Years of Lead?, when left- and right-wing urban guerrillas also troubled Italy, Germany and France. Errors in the Brabant Killers case and in the 1990s hunt for child killer Marc Dutroux drove Belgium to replace a patchwork of forces with the federal police, which ministers credit with tracing the Islamic State cell that struck Paris and Brussels. But memories of past failures, including the oft-cited Brabant mystery, still provide fuel for critics of the police. Among their crimes, the gang robbed a grocery at Nivelles in 1983, killing a couple who stopped at an all-night fuel station next door and then shooting police who arrived at the scene. In November 1985, they stormed into a supermarket in Aalst brandishing pump-action shotguns. The frenzied shooting of people cowering on the floor and a nine-year-old girl waiting in a car outside helped fix the gang?s ?crazy? image in the public imagination. But it was also their last. Investigators believe the most murderous of the trio -- The Killer -- was hit by police and either died or was killed by the others, who then disposed of the body where it was never found.
Google's Belgian unit faces a tax probe, a report said Wednesday, after the US internet giant had to cough up hundreds of millions of euros in back taxes in Britain and Italy. Many US and other multinational companies channel their European profits through low-tax jurisdictions such as Ireland to avoid massive bills running potentially into the billions. Le Soir daily said that in its latest annual report, Google Belgium had informed shareholders that the authorities began an investigation last year into the company's 2014 and 2015 accounts. "Google Belgium is negotiating with the Belgian tax authorities so as to reach an accord," the annual report reads. The Belgian finance ministry said it could not comment on the matter as all tax matters were private, and gave no indication if the probe was routine or more serious. For its part, Google Belgium said: "We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world." "We remain committed to Belgium and helping grow the online ecosystem." A source close to the matter said the two sides were talking about a regular audit but nothing more. Google Belgium said in its annual report it had sales of 32 million euros ($38 million) last year, making a profit of 1.92 million euros and paying tax of 740,000 euros. Alphabet, Google's parent company, reported 2016 sales of nearly $90 billion. In May, Google agreed to pay 306 million euros to the Italian authorities to settle a probe into how it booked profits generated in Italy through Ireland, its European headquarters. In contrast however, a French court ruled in July that Google did not have to pay 1.12 billion euros in back taxes because its Irish subsidiary was not tax liable in France. Google, along with peers Apple, Facebook and Amazon have all come under pressure in Europe Union over their business and tax practices. The European Union hit Google with a record 2.4 billion euro fine in June for abusing its dominant position in the search engine business while Apple was ordered last year to repay 13 billion euros in back taxes in Ireland.
ADMIN posted a blog entry in Geo News BlogA bomb disposal squad is deployed after Belgian police shot at a vehicle in the Brussels district of Molenbeek after the driver of the vehicle claimed to have explosives on board, Belgian broadcaster VRT reported on Tuesday. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir BRUSSELS: A Belgian bomb squad found no explosives after a man who claimed to be carrying a bomb in his car was stopped by police, Brussels prosecutors said on Tuesday, adding there was no evidence he was plotting an attack. The bomb scare was in the district of Molenbeek, a poor area with a large Moroccan Muslim population that was home to the Daesh members who attacked Paris in November 2015. "It's a mentally unstable person," a spokeswoman for prosecutors Ine van Wymersch told Reuters. "The military did not find any explosive in his vehicle." She said that the suspect was from Rwanda and was not known to have a police record. He was detained after leading police on a chase, speeding through a red light, until they fired a shot at the wheels of the car to slow him. "When the police arrested him, he claimed to have explosives so not to take any risk, the army has been called in to check," van Wymersch said. Police cordoned off the area and Reuters witnesses on the scene heard two controlled explosions.
waqas dar posted a blog entry in Geo News BlogA beach in Belgium has been transformed into a giant sandy gallery, featuring larger-than-life superheroes, cartoon characters, and Cinderella's castle, for one of the world's biggest sand sculpture festivals. Working with 7,000 tons of sand, a team of 32 artists spent five weeks creating the 150 works for the Ostend Sand Sculpture Festival, which opens on Saturday and runs until September, providing rain does not wash away the exhibits. Many of the artists work in other mediums, such as wood or marble carving, and said they found sand sculpting presented some challenges. "What I like in the sand is that you must be very tactile while carving, I am also an ice carver and to compare with ice, the sand is very fragile," Russian artist Sergey Zaplatn told Reuters.
waqas dar posted a blog entry in Geo News BlogBRUSSELS: Belgian troops patrolling Brussels Central Station "neutralised" a person after a small explosion on Tuesday, a police spokesman said, adding that there were no other casualties and the situation was under control. He could not confirm media reports that the person had been wearing an explosive vest and it was not clear whether the person shot was still alive. The station and the adjacent historic downtown area, packed with tourists and locals on a hot summer evening, was partly evacuated as police set up a security cordon, witnesses told Belgian media. The city has been on high alert for more than 18 months since Brussels-based militants carried out attacks in Paris that killed 130 people there in November 2015 and later bombed Brussels airport and the city's metro in March last year. The police spokesman said: "There was an accident at Central Station. There was an explosion around a person. That person was neutralised by the soldiers that were on the scene. "At the moment, the police are in numbers at the station and everything is under control."