Belgian Justice minister "placed under strict security" after threats: three suspects arrested in the Netherlands
In a post on social media, Belgian deputy prime minister and minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne on Saturday reacted to the news that he has been placed under increased security following threats. "This is a threat that was directed against myself as minister of Justice and no one else. Swift action was taken and suspects were arrested. As a precaution, I am placed under strict security for the time being and will not be able to participate in some planned activities in the coming days." Three suspects were arrested in The Netherlands.
The arrests of the three people linked to the threats took place in The Hague, the Dutch public prosecutor's office confirmed. All three involved are Dutch nationals.
The Belgian federal prosecutor's office already announced earlier on Saturday that Van Quickenborne had been placed under heightened security by the National Crisis Centre, after investigations had shown that a possible threat should be taken seriously. In its press release, the federal prosecutor's office immediately added that three people had been apprehended in the Netherlands on Friday night and that their extradition has been requested.
The Dutch prosecutor's office now confirms this information. "By order of Belgium, three Dutch nationals (aged 20, 29 and 48) were arrested in The Hague/Leidschendam, "an announcement on Twitter reads. More information on the exact identity of the suspects has not been disclosed.
Nothing is said about the nature of the threat either, but according to Belgian media VRT and Het Laatste Nieuws, a suspicious car with a Dutch number plate was spotted Friday morning at Van Quickenborne's home in Kortrijk, where he is also the titular mayor. It is not known whether the car contained any occupants, but weapons were reportedly found, "according to reliable sources". According to VRT, the weapons found included Kalashnikovs, firearms and bottles of petrol.
The threat is said to come from the drug milieu, and there is also talk of attempted kidnapping. However, this information has not been officially confirmed.
In his reaction, Van Quickenborne said he and his family were in good hands, he also thanked the security services for their "swift and professional approach".
Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne pictured above at the federal parliament in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK