Two Belgian soldiers arrested with ammunition next to European Commission – POLITICO | Popgen Tech
Two Belgian air force soldiers were arrested in the heart of Brussels’ European quarter in possession of ammunition in a surreal incident that went largely unnoticed last Saturday, a spokesman for Brussels’ public prosecutor said.
Witnesses at the scene said the arrests took place right next door to the European Commission’s headquarters, on Rue Archimède in an apartment near the Café Berlaymont, a favorite haunt of Brussels officials.
“The two people were deprived of their liberty, heard by police services and released after their trial,” said the spokesperson, confirming previous reports from the Belgian media.
The spokesman was “unable to confirm the origin of the ammunition,” and said an “investigation (was) underway” to determine where the bullets came from.
According to the Flemish-language daily Het Nieuwsblad, residents saw the two men randomly shooting firearms from an open window and called the police.
The weapons turned out to be air rifles, police discovered. But when they searched the building, police found more than 200 rounds of ammunition “intended for submachine guns used by Belgian troops,” Het Nieuwsblad reported.
“We heard one or two loud noises and wondered what it was,” said Angelo Galatanu, a waiter at a bar next to the building where the arrest was made. He worked last Saturday, but since it’s “so noisy on that street” he didn’t think much of it, he said, adding that he continued to work.
Two other shopkeepers said they saw police activity on the street that evening, but the police did not stop people from walking past and the street was never closed.
In a statement to POLITICO, Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder said she would not make any “concrete statements” on the case, as it was currently being investigated by both her ministry and judicial services.
“As a minister, I want to reiterate that this kind of behavior is absolutely not accepted within the Ministry of Defense,” Dedonder said, adding that “necessary precautions were taken immediately,” once the investigation began.
“Our services are investigating the matter and the ministry will propose a clear and appropriate sanction,” the minister concluded.
The Belgian army has repeatedly come under fire in recent years over misconduct by some of its members, or their links to far-right groups.
Last year, far-right militant and Belgian soldier Jürgen Conings disappeared after stealing military weapons and leaving messages threatening to kill health experts and politicians, sparking a weeks-long manhunt until he was found dead in a forest near the Dutch border.
There is no indication of any political motive in this case.