Fifth man arrested for attempted abduction of Justice Minister Van Quickenborne

Fifth man arrested for attempted abduction of Justice Minister Van Quickenborne
Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD). Credit: Eric Lalmand/Belga

A fifth suspect has been arrested in the investigation into threats against Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, confirmed the federal prosecutor's office on Wednesday.

The new suspect was reportedly recently arrested in the Netherlands. Previously, four Dutch nationals were also arrested near The Hague, and handed over to Belgium. The four allegedly tried to abduct Van Quickenborne at his home in Kortrijk on 22 September.

However, the attempt was prevented because the Justice Ministry got wind of the case, and ordered the local police to patrol his street. They discovered a suspicious vehicle, and checked the four people inside, Het Nieuwsblad reports.

The four returned to the Netherlands, and it was not until the following day that it became clear that this was an attempted kidnapping, when their second car was discovered in the street containing weapons, and zip ties.

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The four suspects stated that they had only travelled to Belgium that day in September, "to have a drink in Antwerp." One of them said he had been instructed "to go and drop off a car in Kortrijk."

According to their own statements and the police's findings, four of them went out that night. The role of the fifth suspect who has now been arrested is unclear and the identity of the person who ordered the abduction is not yet known either.

Initially, Van Quickenborne was supposed to remain in a safe house with his family for a while after the abduction attempt, but this measure was initially suspended after only a week. Since 8 December, however, he has again been placed in a safe house at an undisclosed location.

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