'We are still assuming that Conings is alive,' federal prosecutor says

'We are still assuming that Conings is alive,' federal prosecutor says
The Jürgen Conings manhunt. Credit: Belga

As the manhunt for the fugitive career soldier Jürgen Conings (46) moved back to the Hoge Kempen National Park in Limburg, the authorities continue to assume that the man is still alive.

Since 8:00 AM this morning, some 300 soldiers and about 120 police officers have been searching again in three specific areas a bit more to the north of the Park, one of which is near the spot where Conings' car was found on Tuesday.

"There are no indications that Jürgen Conings has died," Wenke Roggen of the federal public prosecutor's office said in a brief update. "So we are still assuming that he is alive."

"Based on elements in the case, we decided that we had to carry out searches here again," she said, without elaborating on what those elements are. "The search is now more targeted, whereas last week it concerned a sweeping."

The targeted areas were partly determined by the Missing Persons Unit and the people of the Nature and Forest Agency, according to Roggen.

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During the first days of the search, a 20-kilometre-wide area of the Hoge Kempen National Park was searched in minute detail by the police and the army, but without result.

A tent thought to have been used by Conings was found, but in the meantime, it became clear that it probably did not belong to him, according to the federal public prosecutor.

Additionally, the suspicious mechanism that was attached to Conings' car - described by Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne as a "boobytrap" - will also be investigated further. On Saturday, the search in the National Park was halted, and the police continued their search in other ways.

Whether there are any concrete clues today or why they are searching the area again is not clear, as the authorities are still keeping all possibilities open, according to Roggen.

In the meantime, the governor of the Limburg province, Jos Lantmeeters, confirmed via Twitter that apart from those three specific zones, the park itself is not closed to the public.

A full timeline of coverage about the manhunt for Jürgen Conings from The Brussels Times can be found here.

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