Who is Klotenknijper (the Groin Grabber)?

In the afternoon of August 29, 1998, a member of the Belgian gendarmerie - and a high officer at that - conducted an illegal and intentionally intimidating body search on two Moroccan youths on the Amsterdam-Brussels train. When I protested his manners, he arrested me and subsequently beat me up in the police station of the Antwerpen railway station.

A few days later Karin Spaink wrote an article in De Morgen about the event. In that article she called the police officer in question "Klotenknijper" after his eager and prolonged "search" around the groins of the two Morrocan youths.

The article caused quite some commotion and a number of follow-ups in other newspapers, radio and TV. The entire story can be found on Karin Spaink's pages. All through this coverage though, the offending officer was called "Klotenknijper", while his real name remained a secret known only to the Karin Spaink, myself and the authorities.

Klotenknijper was never punished. As it is usual in cases like this, his colleagues had "seen nothing" and "heard nothing", so there was not sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute him. As was to be expected, Klotenknijper is still an officer of the gendarmerie and will continue disgracing his force, safe behind his colleagues' silence, until somebody gets him on film or tape doing so. That is normal; it is the way the system works.

What on the contrary is both outrageous and surprising is that this sleasy character has sued Karin Spaink for her article, demanding BEF 100.000 in damages. Yes, you read correctly. The shameless lowlife, who is an utter disgrace to himself and to the force that he is supposed to serve, is demanding damages from the person that exposed his abuses.

However, there is a bright side to this too. The lawsuit, being a court document on public file, can now be freely reproduced by anyone. I wish to thank Klotenknijper for this opportunity to finally let the public know his real name. The entire lawsuit containing his name and his outrageous demands follows here.

November 1999: Klotenknijper is demanding through his lawyer that I "immediately remove" this entire site and that I "desist from every further direct or indirect publication of court documents". Furthermore, he is threatening to sue me in summary proceedings in case I do not comply.

The man has gone mad. There is no way he can stop the publication of court documents, and especially not on the net. I will be more than happy to receive his lawsuit and I will enjoy meeting him in court. In the meanwhile, I invite anybody outside Belgium to mirror this site. To do so, just download klotenknijper.zip (ca 450 KB) and unzip it to the directory of your choice on your own website. Don't forget to mail me so that I can send you updates.

March 2000: True to his promise, Klotenknijper sued me over this website. By now, both his lawsuit against Karin Spaink and the one against me have taken dimensions that go beyond the limited scope of this dispute and could severly affect the rights of everybody. Klotenknijper is namely trying to set these two unheard-of precedents:

  1. Filing a complaint with the competent authority (police etc) is libellous in itself if the suspect is not actually convicted.
  2. Even if the contents of a website are perfectly legal in the country where they are published, the publisher can be sued for them in any other European country.
You can easily see the implications, should Klotenknijper win. You see somebody steal your bike and report him to the police. Due to lack of evidence (or plain lack of investigation) the thief is never prosecuted. He can then sue you for libel and demand damages. What this principle would do in cases where evidence is by nature difficult and word stands against word, such as for instance in rape cases, is not hard to imagine.

The second precedent that Klotenknijper is trying to establish would mean that the rights to freedom of speech that each country grants its citizens can be taken away by the courts of another country. You publish something in Belgium that is perfectly legal, and then find yourself sued in Finland, Portugal or Greece, and have to defend yourself there, in the local language and according to the local rules. If Klotenknijper wins this one, you can kiss your freedom of speech good-bye.

The bulk of the court documents will be up on this site before the end of March. The written preparation is scheduled to be finished by April 12 and the oral hearings will take place in the Rechtbank van Eerste Aanleg, Britselei 55, Antwerpen, on May 25 2000, at 9.00 and 10.00 h respectively. Feel free to attend.

May 2000: Since the case against Karin Spaink's case involves the freedom of press, it was transferred to a three-judge chamber of the court. The cases against me followed it there by pure inertia. And since the court could not arrange a three-judge seat for the date scheduled, the oral hearings of May 25 turned into a simple postponement procedure. The new hearings have not been scheduled yet, but can be assumed to take place some time in the late autumn this year.

Zenon Panoussis