The Brussels Council Chamber decided to grant an 18-year-old man suspected of calling in several false bomb threats conditional parole on Friday. The false bomb threats were reported in Brussels, Charleroi and Gosselies in October. He was arrested in Namur on Monday, and taken into custody. He was charged with providing false information about terrorist attacks, the Prosecutor’s Office announced on Friday. They are intending to appeal the decision to grant him parole.
The suspect has confessed and explained his behaviour. It will be analysed and compared to other elements of the case, the Prosecutor’s Office said. There is no evidence he suffers from any mental problems at this stage.
On the 5th of October last year, several calls about bomb threats led to the evacuation of the Brussels Courthouse, the Montesquieu building in Brussels and the North Brussels station. The South Charleroi station and Gosselies airport also received calls about false bomb threats. The Portalis building that houses the Brussels Prosecutor’s Office received a call about another bomb threat on the 10th of October.
There was a judicial inquiry into each incident. The Brussels-Capitale-Ixelles police, the SNCB and Infrabel also looked into them.
The inquiry manged to establish that the same person called in all the threats. As the standard lines of investigation drew a blank, the investigators decided to give all the cases to a Brussels Instruction judge. They agreed that researchers from the Brussels-Capitale-Ixelles police should investigate. They quickly identified a Facebook profile that led them to an IP address in Belgium. This in turn led them to a young man living in Namur.
The local Brussels-Capitale-Ixelles police took the suspect into custody for questioning on Monday. He appeared before the Instruction judge, who charged him with providing false information about a terrorist attack. He was then remanded in custody.
La Dernière Heure revealed the young man was part of a network of young internet users who called in false bomb threats “to cost the state money”. The same source claimed the young man talked to Facebook friends who encouraged each other to call in false bomb threats. The young man contacted a journalist from a site that specialises in IT security to tell them his story. He also told his Grandmother, and said he was going to hand himself into the police.
People who call in false bomb threats or give false information about an attack could get three months to two years in prison and a fine of 50 to 300 euros.
Sarah Johansson (Source: Belga)