Brussels court bans polar explorer from Belgian Antarctic base
A court in Brussels has issued an injunction against polar explorer Alain Hubert and his International Polar Foundation (IPF), preventing them from visiting the Princess Elisabeth polar base in the Antarctic. Permission for the organisation to use the SES ASTRA system, which allows the base to be operated remotely, has also been revoked.
The IPF went to court to contest a new law that changes the structure of the polar station (pictured), virtually wiping out the role of the IPF in its operations. “This ruling is confirmation that our restructuring of the polar base was a lawful decision,” commented Elke Sleurs, federal minister for science policy, under whose department the base falls. “The court recognised that there are two parallel expeditions being organised and that this could give rise to difficulties.”
The court’s ruling puts an end to Hubert’s plans to return to the South Pole and leaves the field open for AntartiQ, a private company based in Wervik, West Flanders. AntartiQ will act as technical operator for the government-backed expedition, preparations for which are “almost complete,” Sleurs said.
AntarctiQ was created by two of Hubert’s former collaborators. The company was selected by the council of ministers in September to lead the expedition. Hubert, a leading polar explorer and founder of IPF, accused the government of being “a Mafia-like state” and of not respecting its own laws.
Photo courtesy IPF