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Senior EU official sentenced for rape of junior colleague

Tuesday February 19 2019

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The defendant was ordered to pay the victim more than 30,000 euros in compensation for damages, as well as 5,000 euros to her companion. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AFP
By AFP
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BRUSSELS,

A senior EU official has been sentenced to four years for the rape of a junior colleague in 2015 on European Commission premises in Brussels, a court official said Tuesday.

The official, an Estonian born in 1967 holding the rank of director, will appeal the decision issued by the criminal court in Brussels, his lawyer Damien Holzapfel said.

The defendant "says that the victim was consenting, but after the evidence, the court considers that this consent does not exist," the court's president Luc Hennart told AFP.

The events took place in September 2015 during an office party to celebrate a new project and the birth of the defendant's daughter, Mr Hennart said.

"The situation then degenerated," he added.

JUNIOR POST

The victim, 20 years younger than his attacker, held a more junior post, a fact seen as an aggravating circumstance by the court.

The defendant was ordered to pay the victim more than 30,000 euros in compensation for damages, as well as 5,000 euros to her companion.

The court also banned the civil servant from exercising his civil rights for five years, including his right to vote.

In Belgium, rape is "any act of sexual penetration of any kind and by any means whatsoever, committed on a non-consenting person", Mr Hennart said.

ZERO TOLERANCE

The defendant, Margus Rahuoja, was a director in the Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, a source familiar with the matter said.

He "has been suspended since the incident was first reported to the commission and internal proceedings have been initiated", a spokesman for the EU executive told AFP.

"The Commission takes note of" the court's decision, he said, but "is prevented by law from taking any other action until a final judgement has been rendered".

The commission advocates "zero tolerance for any form of misconduct" he insisted, and "will not hesitate to take all appropriate measures" once the appeal period has elapsed or judgement has been definitively rendered.