As the search for the missing career soldier Jürgen Conings continues, other people, alongside virologist Marc Van Ranst, are currently receiving extra police protection.
The investigation into the ex-soldier, who has been sought by police for over two weeks, found that several other people could be targets of the fugitive, based on his farewell letters.
The level of police protection can vary, as not all people will be placed in safe houses. This could be limited to extra patrols in the surroundings of a house, according to reports from VRT NWS and Het Nieuwsblad.
Van Ranst – the man behind many of the calls related to Belgium’s coronavirus lockdown measures – and his family were put in a safe house under police protection after Conings' disappearance as investigations showed that Conings had been hanging around his house in Willebroek for a few hours on the evening of his disappearance.
Extra police protection could also be implemented for several mosques in the province of Limburg, which decided to close their doors after Conings went missing, as a precaution while the heavily armed military man remained at large.
The federal public prosecutor's office has said that, for the time being, they are still assuming that Conings is alive because there are no indications to the contrary.
This was echoed by Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, who said on Sunday she had no indication that Conings had died.
She said on VRT's De Zevende Dag that the threat posed by the ex-military man who served during several foreign missions, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, had not completely disappeared.
A new search limited to the Hoge Kempen National Park, where authorities initially thought Conings was hiding after he first stole heavy weapons from a military barracks and disappeared on Tuesday 18 May, yielded no results, the federal public prosecutor’s office announced on Sunday.
You can find a timeline with our coverage on the search for Jürgen Conings here.