Alleged murder in D'Leedon: Belgium media highlights possibility of death penalty

Philippe Graffart was charged on Wednesday with the murder of his son, Keryan.
Philippe Graffart was charged on Wednesday with the murder of his son, Keryan.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE -The arrest of Belgian expatriate Philippe Graffart for the alleged murder of his five-year-old son has attracted media attention in Belgium, with many Belgian news reports focusing on how he faces the death penalty.

Newspapers like the La Dernière Heure (The Latest Hour), a French-language daily published in Brussels, kicked off their reports by stating that Graffart faces the death penalty by hanging if he is convicted. Others, such as La Meuse, a French-language regional paper published in Liège, Belgium, ran the death penalty threat as a headline.

Graffart, 41, was charged in court on Wednesday with the murder of his son, Keryan Gabriel Cedric Graffart. The boy was understood to have been strangled as hand-shaped bruises were found over his neck.

The La Dernière Heure said on Wednesday that Graffart's mother was trying to help him. The newspaper also quoted Graffart's uncle, who was unnamed, as saying that the family was "in shock" over the incident.

Belgian minister of foreign affairs Didier Reynders said that consular assistance has been offered to Graffart's family in Singapore, according to the La Dernière Heure. Mr Reynders also told the Brussels newspaper that Belgium is against the death penalty.

"Belgium is campaigning in the front line and has always been against the death penalty. We operate all over the world to demand its abolition. Belgium's position is very clear on the matter. If any of our people had to be condemned to such penalty, it is clear that we will take steps to publicise our position again," the La Dernière Heure quoted Mr Reynders as saying.

The Straits Times was not able to verify the comments, as the Belgian Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Corporation, which is responsible for Belgium's external relations, had not responded to messages by press time. The Belgian Embassy in Singapore has declined to comment on the case.

osadaj@sph.com.sg