The Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, speaking yesterday (Thursday) was keen to “separate the role of mayor from that of New Flemish Alliance Party President” in the management of local security. This came in response to deputies’ questions in parliament around the controversial communication by their colleague, the Mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, relating to a “potential attack” in the city a week ago, which was “avoided.”
The Minister of Justice, Koen Geens indicated on Wednesday, in parliamentary select committee, that the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the local Public Prosecutor’s Office formally advised against any communication on the subject of intercepting the vehicle, which was driving at high speed on Meir in Antwerp last Thursday.
Minister Jambon acknowledged, “There was communication about this between the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Mayor’s department.” However, regarding the “separation of powers,” Bart De Wever is free to judge the appropriateness or otherwise of his actions. The Minister mentioned that it was an unusual incident, denounced by the army, involving a car driving at high speed, “with the objective of hitting pedestrians,” information unpublished up to now.
The party president, in fact, had contact with the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Mr Jambon explained that if the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said that it intended there to be a prohibition on communication, we need written evidence of this. If this exists “we will undertake an investigation.”
The Minister considered that the press conference given in Antwerp was purely factual and did not fall within the scope of an investigation. He said, “There was three times more information within the Federal Prosecutor’s Office press release.” All of these issues aside, he put the incident into perspective, stressing that his current priority was managing the extent of terrorism in Belgium.