A soldier is on a state terror list for right-wing extremism - and yet still has access to the armory.
When he threatens Belgium's chief virologist and disappears, an unprecedented manhunt begins - and a state affair.
Brussels (dpa) - After a four-week manhunt for the terrorist soldier Jürgen Conings, a body was found in East Belgium.
The Belgian public prosecutor announced on Sunday that the first indications indicated that it was Conings.
The cause of death is suspected to be suicide with a firearm. However, this must be checked. The alleged right-wing extremist Conings disappeared on May 17 after death threats against the prominent Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst near the Hoge Kempen National Park in the Limbourg region. The location of the body in Dilsen-Stockem is nearby. The borders with the Netherlands and Germany are only a few kilometers away.
At the time it was feared that Conings was planning an attack on state structures or public persons.
According to the authorities, a "suspicious mechanism" was found in the parked car of the wanted man, possibly an explosive device.
There were also heavy weapons in the car.
The man was investigated for attempted murder and illegal gun possession in a terrorist context.
An unprecedented search went on for weeks.
The army helped with hundreds of soldiers, armored vehicles and attack helicopters, and Interpol was called in.
According to a report in the newspaper “Le Soir”, the search devoured around 650,000 euros by mid-June.
The disappearance of the 46-year-old also drew political circles.
Because of right-wing extremist sympathies, Conings was on a suspect list of the Belgian anti-terrorist agency Ocam.
Even so, Conings had direct access to the armory of his army unit.
Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder had to answer questions from Belgian MPs on several occasions.
According to the government, the entry of the soldier as a threat to level three of four on the terrorist list was not forwarded to the SGRS secret service in good time.
Chief virologist Van Ranst said on Sunday that he was relieved that the case was likely to be cleared up.
But it is not yet clear when he and his family will be able to leave his state-secured hiding place, he told the Belga news agency on the phone.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210620-99-70685 / 3
Report in the "Grenzecho" (German) from June 20th, 2021