5,521 files of material lost or stolen from the Ministry of Defence have been registered between 2016 and 2020, among them firearms and ammunition. Around 20 firearms have still not been found, Sudinfo reported, citing figures released by Belgium’s Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder.
When questioned on the matter by MP Kattrin Jadin (Liberal Reformist Party), Dedonder confirmed the above figures but explained that a lack of clarity in the official documents made it impossible to give more detailed information on “the type of material lost or stolen.” Dedonder added that “the material varied owing to the wide range of activities carried out by the Ministry of Defence,” Belga News Agency reports.
The minister was, however, able to provide further information on some of the numbers of lost and stolen items: “the list included 83 losses of ammunition, of which 64 have been found; nine ammunition thefts, of which two have been recovered; 53 lost firearms, of which 30 have been found; and four firearms thefts, of which one has been recovered.”
The whereabouts of some 26 stores of ammunition and 26 firearms therefore remain unknown.
This is somewhat concerning given the case of Jürgen Conings, a former career soldier with extreme-right beliefs who went missing for a month earlier this year after stealing an arsenal of lethal weapons from a military barracks. Conings had threatened to hunt down and attack virologists who were advising the Belgian Government on coronavirus pubic policy – threats that were taken seriously given his background and the lethal weapons in his possession.
Just yesterday, three military barracks and eight private homes of military personnel were searched as part of an operation to tackle extreme-right terrorism in Belgium.