Belgian Bicycle Thief Gets Three Years in Prison for ‘Ecological Crime’

Illustration picture shows people riding their bicycle in the city center of Brussels, Friday 03 May 2019. BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND (Photo credit should read ERIC LALMAND/AFP via Getty Images)
ERIC LALMAND/AFP via Getty Images

A Belgian man who is accused of multiple bicycle thefts has been sentenced to three years in prison by a Belgian court after being found guilty of “ecological crime”.

The Brussels Criminal Court sentenced the man for the crime which took place back in October of last year, Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure reports.

The judge in the case commented on the potential environmental impact that the man had brought by stealing bicycles.

“It is… advisable to severely punish the defendant who commits crimes the gravity of which is important for the planet since the victim deprived of his bicycle has no other option than to use [a more polluting] means of transport,” the judge stated.

He added that the man’s thefts were “contributing to global warming, and all this to allow the accused to buy narcotics.”

The convicted man was already well-known to police and has been arrested a total of 44 times between 1995 and 2019, and served 12 years of imprisonment in connection with 17 prior convictions.

The case is a far cry from other environmental crime cases such as illegal logging and elephant poaching — activities that led to Interpol red notices being issued for several suspects last year.

But some, such as Professor of Political Theory at the University of Exeter Catriona McKinnon, have argued that the scope of environmental crimes should be greatly widened.

Writing for the UNESCO Courier last year, Professor McKinnon argued that those who deny climate change should be brought up on criminal charges under international law.

“Criminal sanctions are the most potent tools we have to mark out conduct that lies beyond all limits of toleration. Criminal conduct violates basic rights and destroys human security. We reserve the hard treatment of punishment for conduct that damages the things we hold most fundamentally valuable. Climate change is causing precisely such damage,” she wrote.

“The scope of international criminal law makes it the right site to address the existential threats created by climate change,” she continued, and added that climate change deniers should be prosecuted for “postericide” — which she invented, and defines as “intentional or reckless conduct fit to bring about the extinction of humanity.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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