Around 1,000 people took part in a procession in Lanaken in Limburg province in honour of Jürgen Conings, the fugitive soldier whose remains were discovered last Sunday.
Conings had been missing for 35 days, after leaving work at a military base having taken a number of firearms, including a machine pistol and ammunition.
In a message left for police, he threatened to carry out an attack, and also threatened the life of virologist Marc Van Ranst, who he accused of orchestrating the removal of people’s freedoms.
That triggered a massive manhunt searching in the Hoge Kempen National Park, but Conings could not be found.
Then, in circumstances that remain unclear, his remains were found in the Dilserbos, part of the national park but some distance from the search perimeter. According to a pathologist, he had taken his own life by firearm, and may have died at any time in the past one to four weeks.
The funeral, for family and close friends only, is due to take place today. A planned gathering near the place where he was found, announced on social media, has been banned by the mayor of Dilsen-Stokkem.
Instead, supporters including several military veterans wearing their red berets, took place in a motorcade to the funeral home in Lanaken, where the remains are being kept. According to the funeral home, some 900 memorial cards – a souvenir of the deceased bearing a photo, basic details and usually a verse – were handed out to those present, who numbered around 1,000.