Belgium’s top court on Tuesday dismissed a defamation case brought by a former employee of Belgian MEP, saying that it was “inappropriate and absurd” to have a court in the country decide that an employee should be tried under defamation law.
The Belgian Constitutional Court on Tuesday also dismissed a lawsuit brought by the employee’s former employer, the Brussels Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), and another lawsuit brought against Brussels Mayor Yves Mersch.
Both cases were brought by two people who say they were wrongly accused of defamation.
Belgium has had a long-running civil defamation law that allows anyone to bring a defamation lawsuit against anyone.
But that law was introduced in 2013 and amended last year to include a section that says defamation can be brought against politicians.
Under the new law, defamation is considered a criminal offense, punishable by up to six months in prison and fines up to 1 million euros ($1.2 million).
The Belgian court on Monday ordered the BCI to pay the legal fees of the two former employees.
The former employee, who worked for the Brussels government, was a member of the BNCI, an association of private companies that owns property in Brussels.
The lawsuit alleges that the BOCI’s employees and officials did not disclose the fact that the Brussels Chambers was owned by the BIC, a private corporation.
The BIC denied any wrongdoing in the case and said it had acted in good faith.
“It is a very sad and unfortunate case that has been brought against the Brussels BNCIs employees, but it is in order to protect the Bocis reputation and to protect Brussels, its people and its property,” Brussels Chamber spokesman Philippe Goyens told The Associated Press in a statement.
“The BOCIs employees have every right to take their business into account, in the best interest of their clients, when making contracts.”
Belgians must pay out the damages, Goyes said.