Justice minister under fire over police car peeing incident

Belgium's Justice minister has come in for further criticism after footage emerged of guests at his birthday party in August urinating on a police car. While Vincent Van Quickenborne previously said he was unaware of what had happened, VRT NWS published new details on Monday that cast doubt on his claim.

During a party for Van Quickenborne's 50th birthday on 14 August, some of his guests were filmed urinating on an empty police car. The car was parked outside his home because Van Quickenborne has been under police protection after receiving several threats from people involved in the drugs trade and an attempted kidnapping.

The incident first came to light last month, but several politicians stepped up their criticism on Monday after VRT published new details based on footage from a police surveillance camera. Some are questioning whether Van Quickenborne can remain in office.

According to VRT NWS, the footage shows two party guests urinating against the car several times while a third takes pictures. A few hours later, Van Quickenborne comes outside. 

"There is laughter, and while the minister is on the pavement, he leans back and pretends to pee," VRT says. "Then the minister and his guest look at the minister's mobile phone, and there is a lot of laughter." 

'Disgusting and disrespectful'

Critics say the description discredits Van Quickenborne's earlier claims. In previous statements, he distanced himself from the "disgusting and disrespectful" acts, saying he was not present during the incident and had no knowledge of it.

"If Van Quickenborne really made false statements about the incident, he simply cannot remain in office," said MP Yngvild Ingels (N-VA, Flemish nationalists). "These are people who protect him day and night and deserve his utmost respect."

Members of the far-right party Vlaams Belang were less circumspect. "It is clear that Van Quickenborne lied about this peeing incident," said MP Ortwin Depoortere. "We want the video footage to be released immediately and for Van Quickenborne to resign," said MP Barbara Pas.

Tom Ongena, leader of Van Quickenborne's Flemish liberal party Open VLD, expressed his continued confidence in the minister on Monday evening. "I have the feeling that people are trying to look for something that is not there," he said. 

Van Quickenborne stands by his earlier statements, his cabinet said on Monday. "Many hours passed between the last incident and the images showing the minister," a spokesperson said, and that to conclude from his gestures that he was aware of what had happened is a matter of interpretation.


Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne © BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER

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