Albert’s truth versus Sybille’s truth

  • One of the king’s lawyers stated yesterday in front of Delphine Boël that his instructions are to formally contest Albert’s paternity before the court.
  • According to our information, Jacques Boël is being pressured not to disavow his paternity.

Tuesday’s hearing at the Brussels court of first instance must have been very unremarkable. It was a simple matter of closing the first proceeding introduced by Delphine Boël, the presumed daughter of Albert II and Sybille de Sélys Longchamps, in her battle to gain recognition of paternity by the king.

Albert II’s abdication last July 21 leveled the playing field. He no longer has immunity from legal proceedings. From now on, he can be subject to legal proceedings. That’s why Delphine Boël changed her strategy. She has given up her demand for Albert, Philippe, Astrid and Jacques Boël, her legal father, to undergo DNA tests. This procedure was closed yesterday.

She did file a new legal action at the end of July against just two people, with a twofold goal. First, she wants to get Jacques Boël to renounce his paternity, and then an acknowledgment of paternity by Albert II. The new procedure’s first hearing will take place September 9, when a calendar of written submissions and arguments will be set.

Although yesterday’s hearing was a pure formality, a statement made in the halls of the courthouse by one of the two lawyers for the king, Guy Hiernaux, made it interesting. According to him, Albert II “does not admit the facts” and “refuses to be considered as Delphine’s father.”

When contacted, he confirmed this and explained, “I was asked if these new media-centered events could modify Albert II’s position. I answered that, not having spoken to the king since his abdication, the mission Mr. Berenboom, my colleague and I were entrusted with was to formally contest the idea that he could be Delphine’s father. At this stage, my instructions are to contest Delphine’s paternity.”

This is nothing very new for Guy Hiernaux. It is, though, the first time that the king’s attitude and argument in this procedure has been so openly revealed by one of the lawyers.

Alain Berenboom simply says, “Our position has not changed. As lawyers we can only say that the civil code forbids having more than one father. As long as Jacques Boël is the legal father, we can’t even discuss giving her another father.”

What remains is the fact that, although Sybille de Sélys, in a long interview on Flemish Vier TV, discussed her relationship with Albert from which, according to her, Delphine was born, the king fully intends to contest paternity in court. For lawyer Guy Hiernaux, the fact that Sybille de Sélys is showing photos of her, Albert and Delphine together is no proof of paternity: “Photos do not constitute proof.”

The issue is to know whether Delphine’s mother has other written documents in her possession that the court could consider as evidence. As we revealed Tuesday, Delphine’s situation was mentioned by lawyers and those designated by Baudouin to finalize their separation during divorce discussions between Albert and Paola in 1976. They were questioned on the various options: acknowledgment, adoption, or Jacques Boël’s disavowal of paternity.

In the legal proceeding now brought by Delphine Boël, everything hinges on Jacques Boël. Before Delphine can even assert any acknowledgment of paternity, she first needs a disavowal of paternity by her legal father since she cannot have two fathers. For the time being, no one knows what Jacques Boël will opt for.

His lawyer, Philippe Grégoire, said nothing about it on Tuesday at the hearing. He admits that even he doesn’t know. “We will discuss the possible options Mr. Boël has open to him. For now, I don’t know his mental state. I don’t know what position he will take toward Delphine because we haven’t had the chance to discuss it with him during the first procedure. I had nothing to say because Delphine Boël was not asking anything that concerned him”

What could Jacques Boël do? Since the issue is in a court of law, saying he is or is not Delphine’s father is not enough. A court needs evidence. This could be accomplished through a DNA test that Boël could accept. That’s one option. However, if the test proves that he’s not the father, again, it won’t be enough to prove that Albert is the father. He could refuse the test, in which case the court would need to decide whether or not to order it. Another option is to use the statute of limitations argument since the legal limitation for disclaiming paternity has ended in Delphine Boël’s case.

Everyone, then, is waiting to hear from Jacques Boël, who could adopt yet another option – that of taking no position and allowing the court to decide on the basis of the two parties’ arguments – those of Delphine and Albert.

It’s obvious that his decision will be crucial in the matter. We are informed, in fact, that Jacques Boël is being pressured to refuse to disavow his paternity. The pressure is coming from the palace: as long as Mr. Boël remains the legal father, Albert wouldn’t be able to acknowledge Delphine.

MARTINE DUBUISSON

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