An 18-year-old man was sentenced by Ghent Criminal Court on Monday to 18 months in prison, half of which was suspended for the false alarm he had raised. On December 18th, 2014, he led the police to believe that his friend was being held hostage in Ghent by four men armed with Kalashnikovs . The young man entered a newsagent’s and claimed that his friend had been taken hostage in an apartment by four armed men. He said the men had threatened him by holding a Kalashnikov against his head and that his friend was still in the apartment with the thugs.
The police took this alert extremely seriously. Special federal police units broke into the apartment but found no kidnappers, no hostage and no weapons. Foreign media turned up at the scene, thinking there may be a link with an ongoing hostage incident in Sydney that day. “There is no evidence that points to an act of terrorism or to the Islamic State group. The incident is in no way similar to the events taking place in Sydney,” announced a spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, before he was informed the Ghent incident was a false alert.
The defendant, who admitted to having taken cocaine that day,was given an 18-month sentence and fined 6,000 euros. Half of each sentence was suspended.