Home » After fellow resident Anne (99) violently kills herself: nursing home acquitted again (Ghent)

After fellow resident Anne (99) violently kills herself: nursing home acquitted again (Ghent)

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The relatives of Anna Bertyn (right) during the hearing of the criminal court last year. On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal handed down a judgment on the case.© SD and IF


The non-profit organization Domino was acquitted on Tuesday by the Court of Appeal for the accidental killing of 99-year-old Anna Berteyn. The resident was attacked and killed by a 61-year-old fellow resident. The public prosecutor wanted to prosecute the nursing home for the lack of an emergency button.

Simon Dekaezemaker and Olivier Scheir

Was Domino residential care center to blame for the death of 99-year-old Anna Berteyn by a 61-year-old fellow resident? At first instance, the nursing home was acquitted for accidental killing, to the incomprehension of Berteyn’s relatives and the public prosecutor’s office who appealed.

The Court of Appeal therefore had to hear the case again and confirmed the judgment of the court at first instance on Tuesday. The nursing home is again acquitted on appeal. The causal link between the absence of an emergency button and death was not proven.

Everything revolves around the violent death of Anna Berteyn (99) in the Tempelhof residential care center in Rodelijvekensstraat in 2020. The woman had a fabric shop in Veldstraat for a long time. She lived at home until she was 98, but a fall landed her in a retirement home.

Six times

Around 8 a.m. in July that year, the woman was found in bed with serious facial injuries. It was immediately clear that she had been horribly beaten. A ballpoint pen was also found in her bed, with which she was allegedly stabbed in the face.

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She was then transferred to AZ Sint-Lucas, but died there not much later from her injuries. The police were quickly able to track down the perpetrator: a 61-year-old fellow resident who suffered from Korsakov’s syndrome and who had only stayed in the nursing home for ten days.

CCTV footage showed him walking into her room six times that night. Someone apparently heard Anna shouting at one point, but little attention was paid to it because the woman shouted more often. The inmate was eventually interned.

But according to the East Flanders public prosecutor’s office, the residential care center also failed and the non-profit organization Domino had to be prosecuted for accidental killing. There was no alarm at Anna’s bed, which, according to the public prosecutor’s office, every resident had to have in the room to notify the staff.

To qualify as unintentional killing, two conditions must be met. First and foremost, errors must have occurred and they must be causally related to the facts, in this case the death of Anna Berteyn.

New lawsuit

The East Flemish public prosecutor’s office and the civil parties mainly pointed to the absence of the calling system in the room, but according to the Ghent court there was insufficient evidence that the presence of the calling system would have prevented the facts from taking place.

During the hearing of the appeal procedure by the Court of Appeal, Anna Berteyn’s relatives again asked to find the residential care center guilty. The Attorney General also agreed. However, the non-profit organization Domino once again argued for the acquittal.

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“It is easy to judge with hindsight and we must guard against that,” advocate Emma Teerlinck argued. “The experts are certain that Anna did not have sufficient options to operate a bell in a stressful situation.” The court ultimately acquitted Domino again on Tuesday.

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