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Monday, 30 October, 2000, 17:18 GMT
Verstappen found guilty of assault
Jos Verstappen
Verstappen has to stay out of trouble for five years
Dutch Formula One driver Jos Verstappen has been found guilty of assault by a Belgian court, but he will not go to jail.

Verstappen has been handed a five-year suspended sentence after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the victim.

"Verstappen was found guilty of fracturing the victim's skull," assistant public prosecutor Cedric Stuyck told the Reuters news agency.

Under Belgian law, a defendant who has reached a financial settlement with a victim can receive a lighter sentence, he said.

Escape

Stuyck would not provide details of the settlement agreed to in the Verstappen case.

Verstappen, 28, will escape a custodial sentence if he stays out of trouble for the next five years. The assault charge carried a possible maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Stuyck said the public prosecutor's office was happy with the guilty verdict handed down but would "examine whether we're happy with the sentence".

Verstappen was not present in court. His father, who was also involved in the incident, received the same sentence.

Jos Verstappen
Verstappen's 2001 deal has yet to be confirmed

The charges went back to an incident at a karting track in the Belgian town of Lanaken, near Tongeren, in May 1998.

The Verstappens and a group of friends became involved in a fracas with another group of people who wanted to use the track.

After a fight, a 45-year-old man was left with a fractured skull.

"A settlement was reached between the parties before the case even got to court," Stuyck said.

Verstappen finished 12th in this year's F1 world championship, with five points.

He has yet to be confirmed as a driver for the Arrows team next season, but is expected to partner Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa for the second consecutive year in 2001.

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See also:

02 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Verstappen on assault charge
22 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Harder than it looked for Schumacher
22 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Coulthard sorry for Schumacher blasts
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