A controversial Belgian prince married to a British wife has demanded 50 million EUR from Muammar Gaddafi’s frozen bank account.
Prince Laurent, 55, the younger brother of King Philippe of Belgium, who is married to British-born Princess Claire, has sent a letter to Prime Minister (PM) Charles Michel demanding him to help retrieve 50 million EUR (43.7 million GBP) from the Libyan government.
Prince Laurent’s NGO Global Sustainable Development Trust (GSDT) was handed contracts by the then Libyan government of dictator Muammar Gaddafi to plant forests in the desert.
The Libyan authorities however suddenly stopped the project after two years, after which Prince Laurent took the country to court.
In 2014, a Brussels Appeals Court sided with the Belgian Prince and ordered Libya to pay the multi-million-pound figure consisting of damages and interest, although the NGO has never received the money back.
Prince Laurent blasted the Belgian government for not doing enough to help him out and pointed at the option to get the money out of a blocked funds of the Gaddafi regime worth 13 billion EUR (11.3 billion GBP) which were frozen by the United Nations.
Prince Laurent wrote: “Once again you leave me with no other choice.
“I invite the government to make the necessary attempts to execute the judgement of the Brussels Appeals Court.”
He wrote that “if necessary I will hold [the Belgian Government] in contempt of court”.
According to PM Michel it is not possible for him to intervene due to the separation of powers.
In a reply the Belgian PM wrote: “The law is equal for everyone. It is the courts which apply the law.”
“The advisers of Prince Laurent’s NGO ask that the Belgian government unfreezes the Libyan funds which are part of international sanctions. But the Belgian government has to apply the UN resolutions and European law which is directly applicable in this area.”
Political scientist Dave Sinardet of the University of Antwerp thinks that the Belgian Prince will only shoot himself in the foot by sending the letter.
Sinardet said: “Laurent already had no credit left in politics and now he is further alienating the politicians. And he cannot count on any sympathy with the public. It is a pure act of despair.”
Prince Laurent had his state income cut by the Belgian Government in 2017 for making an unauthorised visit to the Chinese Embassy at an event honouring the Red Army.
His breach of state protocol which prevents royals from having contact with foreign dignitaries without prior authorisation led King Philippe and the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to reduce his annual state income of 300,000 EUR (265,700 GBP) by 15 percent.
Prince Laurent however caused another scandal when he said he had no choice other than to fight the cut as he stated that his income “is as low as that of the starting pay of a civil servant”.
He said that every time he finds himself “victimised” because of his minority position as a minor member of the Royal family, he remembers the Holocaust. He said: “I often think about the Jews who were shot to death, just because they were Jewish.”