Interior Minister Pieter De Crem (CD&V) promised on Monday that he would take the most severe measures against anyone who intentionally spits or coughs at police officers.
“We want this kind of attitude to be punished as severely as possible,” De Crem’s office assured on Monday.
There have been several reports in recent days of situations in which people intentionally spit or cough at police officers, especially when they intervene to ensure compliance with the rules of social distance taken to contain the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“It is absolutely unacceptable and incomprehensible that our officers on the front line should be treated in this way by these kinds of individuals,” said De Crem.
A recent memo from the College of Attorneys General permits the punishment of three months to two years in prison for anyone who falsely claims to be contaminated, or who intentionally coughs or sneezes at someone else.
This comes after the news of two men arrested in separate incidents for aggressive behaviour and spitting at police, who were remanded to prison by an investigating judge, the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Antwerp indicated.
Anyone who deliberately coughs or sneezes on food can even be sentenced to up to five years in prison.