Prosecutor asks official report for Vlaams Belang leader's pepper spray on TV

Prosecutor asks official report for Vlaams Belang leader's pepper spray on TV
Credit: Belga

Antwerp’s public prosecutor has asked the police to draw up an official report on far-right Vlaams Belang party leader Tom Van Grieken's showcasing of pepper spray, an illegal weapon in Belgium, during a TV performance.

The report should describe the crime committed during an interview on Flemish TV channel VTM on Sunday, when Van Grieken took out a can of pepper spray, according to De Morgen.

"As everyone knows by now, pepper spray is a prohibited weapon in our country," said Kristof Aerts of the Antwerp public prosecutor's office.

"The official report is a first step. After that, we can still order the police to carry out further investigation, with, for instance, an interrogation of Van Grieken. But we are not that far yet," he added.

Since the incident on VTM News and the prosecutor’s call for a report, Van Grieken has taken to Twitter saying: “Grenades are exploding in Antwerp, but the Antwerp public prosecutor's office is demanding that the police draw up a report for this symbolic political statement. It’s a question of priorities..."

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This incident was a reaction to the prosecution of members of the far-right student organisation ‘Schild & Vrienden’ with links to his party, including Vlaams Belang’s member of the federal parliament Dries Van Langenhove.

Van Langenhove specifically has been suspected of inciting hatred and selling prohibited weapons, including pepper spray.

In reaction to this claim, Van Grieken said: “If it’s about illegal possession of weapons, you should convict a lot of people,” taking out the little can in the television studio (added this for clarity).

“Every woman in Flanders should have pepper spray in her handbag,” he added, announcing that his party will submit a proposal to legalise pepper spray.

It remains unclear whether Van Grieken will actually be prosecuted, however possession of banned weapons can lead to a sentence of one month to five years and/or a fine of €100 to €25,000.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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