Miss Belgium attack: Suspect arrested for attempted terrorism

Miss Belgium attack: Suspect arrested for attempted terrorism
People waiting outside the Plopsa theatre, after a bomb alert before the start of the Miss Belgium 2023 beauty contest. Credit: Belga/ Kurt Desplenter

The man who attempted an attack on the Miss Belgium's final event that took place on Saturday in De Panne has been arrested for attempted terrorist murder.

The suspect, referred to by the Federal Public Prosecutor as Peter C., was arrested by the investigating judge in Bruges. Upon his arrest, he was in possession of two firearms and a bulletproof vest, and it is believed he wanted to carry out an attack during the pageant.

"He is suspected of attempted terrorist murder," the Federal Prosecutor confirmed in a statement on Sunday. "He will appear before the chambers of the Court of First Instance in Bruges within the next five days." His motives remain unknown.

Regarding the Dutch woman in the company of Peter C., who was reportedly acting as a cover, the examining magistrate has not yet made a decision, according to the Public Prosecutor's office.

The man himself, who is from the Limburg town of Lommel, has denied that he wanted to carry out an attack during the Miss Belgium pageant at the fairground park Plopsaland, his lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge told Belga News Agency.

"Nothing, nothing, nothing indicates that my client had any intention whatsoever of committing a crime, let alone a terrorist attack," noted Van Steenbrugge, adding that Peter C. allegedly "took his licensed weapons to De Panne for his own safety."

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"He suspected through his professional activity that something could happen to him, but effectively just wanted to attend the ceremony together with the woman who was arrested with him," he said, adding that his client has a blank criminal record.

Emilie Vansteenkiste (21) from the Flemish Brabant region was elected Miss Belgium 2023 after the competition could start following an hour's delay.

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