I am a victim
What is a victim?
A victim is a person who has suffered damages, both material (costs incurred, loss of income, destroyed or damaged objects, etc.) and non-pecuniary/moral (physical or psychological harm), as a result of the attacks in Zaventem or Maelbeek.
Whether directly (having been personally affected) or indirectly (as relative of an injured or deceased person) affected, a victim has the right to be compensated for the damages suffered insofar as these damages are related to the attacks of 22 March 2016. A victim can ask to be reimbursed by the perpetrators of the attacks for the expenses he/she has incurred, incurs and will still incur, and for the loss of income he/she has suffered, is suffering or will suffer. The victim’s past, present and future suffering must be financially compensated.
Am I entitled to compensation for the damages suffered?
In order to obtain compensation, you must constitute yourself as a civil party (“burgerlijke partij/partie civile”)/file a civil lawsuit.
1. If you have already constituted yourself as a civil party with the investigating magistrate, you will receive a letter of summons indicating the date of the trial.
You are free to attend the trial in person, with or without a lawyer, or to be represented by a lawyer.
2. If you have only filed a 'statement of injured party' (“declaration de personne lésée / verklaring van benadeelde partij”) with the police or the public prosecutor (the public prosecutor office), you still have to constitute yourself as civil party/file a civil suit to obtain compensation.
A statement of injured party can be done by filing an ad hoc application at the clerk’s office of the court of assizes in the Palais Poelaert or, as from September 5, 2022, at the representation of the clerk’s office located on the Justitia-site.
As soon as you are constituted as civil party, you must estimate your loss in financial terms and justify it on the basis of supporting documents (invoices, doctor's certificates, employer's certificates, etc.). The non-pecuniary/moral damage can also be assessed on a lump sum basis.
Your civil claim for damages must be made in writing. This claim must then be presented at the hearing. This can be done by means of a document that you can find at the clerk’s office of the Court of Assizes, at the legal service organised on site or by having a lawyer draw up written pleadings.
How to be assisted by a lawyer
If you do not yet have a lawyer and you wish to be assisted by one, you can always contact:
- Your legal expenses insurance - for this purpose, you can contact your insurer or broker. If you benefit from the coverage, your lawyer's fees will be supported by the insurer. For more information on this topic and a possible cap on the insurer's participation to the expenses, we refer you to your insurer/broker.
- You can find a lawyer yourself via the websites www.avocats.be (French or German speaking lawyer) and www.advocaat.be (Dutch speaking lawyer).
- You can verify whether or not you are entitled to free legal aid (total or partial free intervention of a lawyer, or "pro deo"), on the website of the legal aid office, see link below bajbruxelles.be. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
During the first few weeks of the trial, there will also be lawyers present in the trial building (the Justitia), who will be able to provide you with legal advice and guidance. Dutch and French speaking lawyers will be able to answer your questions free of charge and on the spot. If necessary, they can refer you to a pro deo lawyer.
Do I have access to the file and to the hearings?
If you are a civil party or you have filed a statement of injured party, you can already consult the criminal file yourself at the clerk’s office of the court of assizes and take a hard copy of the file (see contact details below). If you have filed a statement of injured party, a fee will be charged for the copy. If you are assisted by a lawyer, this lawyer can consult the file at his/her own initiative and keep you informed (see contact details below).
Clerk’s office of the Court of Assizes
Palais de Justice
Place Poelaert 1
Floor -1, Room L20
Phone number (02/519.85.14 - 02/519.85.15 - 02/519.85.17 - 02/519.85.37 - 02/519.85.38)
An assizes trial is in principle public and therefore accessible to the public and the press. All parties involved, including you as a civil party, will be able to follow the trial.
If you choose to be assisted by a lawyer, you can attend the hearings yourself, but you are not obliged to do so.
A trial before the court of assizes is usually divided into two parts: the first part deals only with the issue of guilt and possible punishment of the accused. A second part deals with 'civil interests', including damages due to victims who have filed civil suit/constituted themselves as civil party and have introduced a claim for compensation during the trial.
Due to security measures, the identity of everyone attending the trial will be checked. As a victim, you have the opportunity to register in advance in order to receive an accreditation that will give you easier access to the trial site (the Justitia) and to the court of assizes.
If you do not wish to communicate with the press, you can simply indicate this when you are seeking your access badge. Victims will receive lanyards/cords: one green or one red.
You will have to wear the green ribbon if you agree to communicate with the press.
You will have to wear the red ribbon if you do not want to communicate with the press.
The trial will be conducted in French. If you do not speak this language, you have the right, as a civil party, to have an interpreter. You can make a request in advance in this respect at the clerk’s office of the court.
What support for victims during the trial?
The judicial assistants from the victim reception services (“slachtofferonthaal / accueil des victimes”) will be present every day during the trial. They will be recognizable by their blue chasuble.
Victims will be able to rely on them, on one hand, for support and guidance throughout the trial and, on the other hand, for specific information on the conduct of the trial, on the role of the various participants, on the practical organisation of the trial, etc.
Victims will be able to turn to them at any time, whether to ask questions or express feelings. If necessary, the judicial assistants will pass their concerns and questions to the judicial authorities.
Depending on the needs of the victims, the judicial assistants will also be able to refer them or put them in contact with other specialised services, including victim support services (“slachtofferhulp / aide aux victimes”), which can provide them, amongst others, with psychological support.
Contact details of the judicial victim support services:
Service d’accueil des victimes de Bruxelles (FR)
Tél : 02/ 363 00 00
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Site : www.victimes.be
Dienst slachtofferonthaal Brussel (NL)
Tel : 02 / 553 00 00
E-mail : email@example.com
Site : www.slachtofferzorg.be
Opferbetreuung Eupen (DE)
Tel : 087/ 594 600
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Site : www.justizhaus.be (Opferbetreuung)