Images of the body of Jürgen Conings, the former career soldier who was found dead on Sunday after a month-long manhunt, showed up in foreign press on Monday.
One of the first people present on the scene took pictures of Conings’ body, and reportedly offered them to foreign media, where they are now also circulating, according to reports in local media.
“Taking and publishing these images is distasteful and reprehensible,” Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said in a press release, reports De Morgen.
“It is unacceptable. It does not matter who it concerns: perpetrator, victim, or whoever,” he said, calling on Belgian media not to share the images, or refer to the foreign website hosting them, out of respect for Conings’ relatives.
Earlier, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office already announced that one of the first people to discover the body took pictures of the body and offered them to German media.
The man was questioned and the Limburg public prosecutor opened a criminal investigation, the federal prosecutor’s office confirmed to De Standaard.
Legal action is being taken to have the images removed, and the court informed the family of the existence of these images, according to the office of Van Quickenborne.
Under current law, the desecration of a grave is punishable, but desecration of the mortal remains of a deceased person (by taking photos of them and distributing them, for example) is not. Van Quickenborne now wants to change that.
“In the new penal code – which is in full preparation – corpse desecration will be included as a criminal offence,” the press release said. In practice, this means that grave-desecration and corpse desecration will be treated equally.
“It is morally reprehensible. Let us therefore clearly draw the line in our criminal legislation,” Van Quickenborne said.
Conings’ body was found in the Hoge Kempen National Park on Sunday, after he had been missing for over a month. He disappeared from home with stolen heavy weaponry on 17 May, resulting in a nationwide manhunt.
An autopsy of his body, which started on Sunday evening, confirmed that the Conings took his own life, one to four weeks ago, the federal public prosecutor’s office announced on Monday afternoon.
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