The Antwerp Court of Appeal has sentenced the well-known lawyer Pol Vandemeulebroucke to one year in prison. Like the court of first instance, the court ruled that he was guilty of membership of a criminal organization.
Vandemeulebroucke was prosecuted in a large drug file surrounding a gang that brought in consignments of cocaine via the port of Antwerp. The investigators who monitored the main defendant Uka Gashi (53) also tapped the criminal’s telephone conversations with Vandemeulebroucke.
After one of the cocaine shipments went wrong, tensions had arisen in the environment. “I was suddenly the point of contact for people whose nephews would be killed if 10 million was not paid, I have cleared the situation and I think that is a good deed,” said Vandemeulebroucke during the handling of the case. The lawyer had contacted a journalist from Gazet van Antwerpen to ask if he could inquire whether the drugs had been seized. The prosecutor’s office confirmed the drug bust and an article appeared in the newspaper. In conversations between Gashi and Vandemeulebroucke, it was afterwards about a ‘thick envelope’.
According to the court, the contacts that lawyer Pol Vandemeulebroucke maintained with the Albanian criminal Uka Gashi could not be framed in ‘a regular lawyer-client relationship’. In the first instance, the lawyer was given an effective prison sentence of 18 months. The appeals court now gave him a slightly lighter prison sentence of one year and a fine of 12,000 euros.