Belgium's speedy VIPs dodge law
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A Belgian newspaper says that the country's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was in an official car caught breaking a speed limit by almost 50 kph (30 mph).
Tuesday's revelation is especially embarrassing for Verhofstadt because it comes days after he publically criticised a member of the Belgian royal family for speeding.
Last week Prince Laurent, 39, was caught driving at almost twice the legal limit near the picturesque town of Bruges.
He avoided a fine even though he was driving at 138 kph (86 mph) in a 70 kph (43 mph).
Verhofstadt wrote to the prince, whose father is King Albert II, calling on him to change his ways on the nation's roads.
The premier said members of the royal family should act as role models.
But on Tuesday, Het Belang van Limburg newspaper reported Verhofstadt's official car was caught going 179 kph (111 mph) in a 120 kph (75 mph) zone.
The newspaper said no fine was imposed on that occasion as well.
In both cases, the cars were travelling enough above the posted speed limit to normally merit the immediate suspension of the driver's licence under Belgian law.
Both incidents date back to late 2000, but are only receiving media attention now because road security has moved up the political agenda in recent months after a series of high-profile accidents.
Verhofstadt, who was in the passenger seat, said his car was exempt from normal traffic regulations.
"Because of my job, I have a car with a siren and flashlight," Verhofstadt said in a statement.
"I am authorised to drive faster than the legal limit. The king too has such a car."
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