New Straits Times (Malaysia), 28th January 1988
BRUSSELS, Wed. – A former chief of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund in Belgium (Unicef) denied in court yesterday his involvement in a child sex ring and said he had been unaware of a colleague’s child-pornography activities.
“I was never aware of this …,” said Jacques Verbeeck, 63, when asked in court if had known a fellow Unicef employee was developing pornographic photographs of children.
Verbeeck, director of the Belgian agency until his arrest last June, went on trial on Monday with 13 others charged with indecency and incitement to debauchery against children.
The accused, who include Michel Felu, 46, a former Unicef volunteer worker, are said to have taken part in a child sex ring, which involved pornographic photographs of children being developed at Unicef’s Brussels office.
Other defendants include parents accused of purveying their children for sexual purposes.
A group called Cries, the Centre for Research and Information on Children and Sexuality, is alleged to have provided a front for the child-abuse ring.
Felu has been accused of using the basement of Unicef’s Brussels office to develop pornographic photographs of children which were then sold.
Challenged over Felu’s testimony that Verbeeck had known he was producing these photographs, the former Unicef chief said:
“I was never aware of this and I am surprised Felu has said anything to the contrary.”
Verbeeck said he had learnt in 1986 that Felu had been prosecuted several times for paedophilia, but that he had given him steady employment to help him rehabilitate.
Verbeeck, who said he was opposed to paedophilia, said when it became clear Felu was engaged in suspicious activities he had immediately asked for him to be dismissed.