Man driving truck with Nazi symbols arrested for arson in asylum centre
Wednesday, 09 December 2020
Two suspects have been arrested in the investigation into a fire that was set in a housing centre for asylum seekers in the Limburg province in November 2019.
One of the suspects is Emmanuel M. (60), a man from the Limburg municipality of Zutendaal who was arrested after months of investigation, after he drove around with Nazi symbols on his car, according to Het Belang van Limburg.
Last year, a centre that was being readied to house 140 asylum seekers in the Limburg municipality of Bilzen was intentionally set on fire during the night of 11 November, according to findings by the local police.
Emmanuel M. made headline across Belgium in September, after a photo of his truck, which had Nazi symbols and stickers on it, was shared on Twitter when he joined a Vlaams Belang protest. The same man is now being linked to the fire.
“We have evidence that he started the fire,” Bruno Copin of the public prosecutor’s office told De Morgen. “The examining magistrate had him arrested for intentional arson,” he said, adding that his partner was also arrested. A third suspect has been released on parole.
News of the arson last year was followed by several responses on social media which showed users celebrating the attack by referring to it as a “good start,” with some commenting that it would have been better to “wait until the building was inhabited.”
Days after the attack, a Flemish government official held a press conference to denounce the use of violence, describing the fire as an act of “political terror.”
Johan Sauwens, the mayor of Bilzen said he was pleased with the developments in the investigation.
“Over the past few days, I had already received signals that there had been a number of interrogations. This now gives the prospect of a breakthrough,” he said.
“A case that has caused so much social upheaval must be able to land. Almost everyone has already been accused of arson – from the owners to the local residents,” Sauwens said. “Hopefully all the fake news about this case can stop now.”