Belgian army opens investigation into illegal party in barracks

Belgian army opens investigation into illegal party in barracks
Screengrab of the footage of the party.

The Belgian army is opening an investigation into an illegal party that was thrown in its barracks in Tielen, in the Antwerp province, images of which surfaced in Flemish media in recent days.

Footage of the party, seen by VTM News, shows about 20 members of the 3rd battalion parachutists, who can be seen drinking, dancing and singing in the presence of a stripper.

"This is unacceptable behaviour, of which we were unaware," Deputy Chief of Staff Marc Thys, adding that the Ministry of Defence has launched a number of investigations to find out, among other things, how the exotic dancer was smuggled into the barracks.

Additionally, the party, which was supposed to be a farewell party for a colleague who was leaving Defence to join the police, took place on 4 May, when Belgium's coronavirus rules were still in full force, according to reports in VRT.

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"This is unacceptable for three reasons," Thys said. "We were still in full Covid period, there is the aspect of military security which is very important, and there is a breach of our values: integrity and collegiality."

"By doing this, an immensely bad image of the organisation is presented by a few, while so many people are doing their best," he added.

In the meantime, Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder also reacted to the footage, saying that the incident "does not belong in Defence."

According to her, "it harms the image of all soldiers who do exemplary work abroad and in Belgium, especially to support the nation during the pandemic and after the floods."

Corps and internal investigations into Defence for three possible violations are already underway, announced Dedonder.

"It concerns the security of military quarters, distance rules Covid-19, and use of alcohol at work," she said. "If the investigations confirm these violations, Defence will take appropriate disciplinary and/or legal sanctions."

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