Jürgen Conings: Defence already spent over €650,000 on manhunt

Jürgen Conings: Defence already spent over €650,000 on manhunt
Military personnel during the search for Jürgen Conings. Credit: Belga

Belgian Defence has already spent over €650,000 on the manhunt for armed career soldier Jürgen Conings, who went missing almost one month ago.

The army is supporting the police in its search of Conings, which started on 17 May, when he stole an arsenal of deadly weapons from a military barracks and disappeared, not only by providing intelligence but also troops and equipment.

Most of the costs have gone to materials and fuel, but also include the extra premiums paid to the soldiers (who are sometimes mobilised for weekend searches), according to reports from Le Soir.

The Ministry of Defence has also made several armoured vehicles available for the investigation, as well as an NH90 attack helicopter.

A first report from the internal inspection on the flaws in the monitoring of Conings will be presented to the members of the Defence Committee on Wednesday morning.

Because of his extreme right-wing political views, Conings was already being monitored by intelligence agencies, however, it has recently been reported that a planned investigation by the military intelligence service into Conings was suspended in early May when another case proved more important at the time.

When he disappeared, Conings left a note behind for his girlfriend in which he indicated that he “planned to join the resistance and may not survive,” and previous threats to Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst – the man behind many of the calls related to Belgium’s coronavirus lockdown measures.

Last week, after several days of no updates from the investigation, a black backpack, filled with hunting ammunition, medicines, and provisions was found near the location where Conings went missing.

The federal prosecutor's office said it was "80 to 90% sure" that it belongs to Conings, which could indicate that the soldier is more heavily armed than first thought by investigators.

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

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