The King of Belgium has used his royal powers to pardon eleven people - predominantly for driving convictions - in less than five months since he ascended to the throne in July.
The news has prompted outrage from road safety campaigners, particularly as it came to light the day before a massive car pile up in the country involving over 130 vehicles which injured 53 and killed one.
King Philippe has now been forced to issue an apology and agree that he will not issue any further pardons before parliamentary elections next May, English language newspaper Flanders Today, reports.
It is not clear who the pardons were granted to, or why they were issued.
Although the King signs off on pardons, they are processed through the country’s federal justice department and are usually granted to prisoners suffering from serious illnesses.
None of those who had their convictions removed were involved in offences which harmed people, it has been reported.
Karin Genoe of The Belgian Institute for Road Safety said that the royal action nevertheless “undermined” work that had been done to improve road safety.
The news has also sparked political debate over the appropriateness of royal pardons in the modern day.
Theo Francken of the New Flemish Alliance called the system “a custom dating from the middle ages or the Roman Empire when the emperor could decide a person’s fate by raising or lowering his thumb”.
- More about:
- Department Of Justice
- English Language
- Middle Ages
- Newspapers And Magazines
- Roman Empire