Cold case over death of courier revived, but produces no result
Share article:
Share article:

Cold case over death of courier revived, but produces no result

© Belga

Police carrying out a search for a body in a 37-year-old cold case came up with nothing this week, the Brussels prosecutor’s office said.

The search was being carried out near the Van Praet bridge in Brussels, which borders Schaerbeek and Laeken, for the body of Francis Zwarts (photo), a courier who disappeared after being robbed at Brussels Airport. He had been carrying a consignment of diplomatic papers, diamonds and gold on behalf of the national airline Sabena, for delivery to Brucargo.

His car was found days later, but in the years since then, no trace has been recovered of the man himself.

The new lead came from a man often linked to the Brabant Killers gang, which was active in Belgium in the 1980s and who were responsible for a string of robberies in which a total of 28 people were killed. Nobody has ever been charged in connection with the gang’s activities, which most people attribute to a gang of rogue agents of the now-disbanded gendarmerie.

The tip about the whereabouts of Zwarts’ remains came from one ex-gendarme, Robert Beijer. He was sentenced for a robbery in 1995, where his confederate, Madani Bouhouche, another gendarme, was convicted of robbery and murder. Now free and living in Thailand, Beijer is reported to have directed police to the site where the search this week took place.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office refuses to confirm or deny Beijer’s involvement, but said the case was re-opened on the basis of “new information”.

The investigation has been re-opened to give the Zwarts family the answers it has been looking for these past 37 years,” said prosecutor’s spokesperson Denis Goeman. “At the conclusion of the digging work which will take place this week, further information will be given.”

The conclusion, as it turns out, is that there is no conclusion to the Zwarts case.

It was important for us, out of respect for the family, to close all doors in this investigation, but unfortunately that has not borne fruit on this occasion,” Goeman added after the search. “Let us hope that other elements will emerge in the future which will allow the family to obtain the answers for which they have been waiting for 37 years.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Belgian food industry hopeful for future after exceptional challenges
The past two years have posed exceptional challenges to all manner of industries, with almost no sector untouched by the strains the pandemic has ...
Covid Safe Ticket led to more infections in Belgium, says expert
The introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in Belgium did not necessarily increase the vaccination rate, but instead resulted in more ...
Pfizer and Moderna can ‘adapt vaccines to Omicron variant’ in a few months
If the current mRNA coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are not effective against the Omicron variant of the virus, the companies ...
Video of three trams at standstill on Brussels intersection goes viral
A video of three trams at a standstill in a triangle at an intersection in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek last weekend went viral, as it ...
Fake PCR tests lead to court hearings for 160 air passengers
In recent months a high number of passengers arriving at Brussels Airport have been found to have fake negative PCR tests; 160 travellers will appear ...
No crowds, limited events: these measures take effect today
Most of Belgium's latest measures already took effect on Saturday, but some changes – concerning public events, sports competitions and schools – ...
Brussels and Liège residents invited to sleep rough to raise awareness for homeless
As temperatures dip below freezing, sleeping on the streets becomes potentially life-threatening, even without factoring in the myriad other hazards ...
Belgium in Brief: Delta, Gamma… Omicron?
Since June, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is no longer calling newly-discovered coronavirus "variants of concern" after the country where they ...
Omicron variant poses ‘very high’ global risk, warns WHO
The Omicron coronavirus variant poses a "very high" global risk for which countries must be well-prepared, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) ...
De Croo: ‘The one certainty that we can rely on is the impact of our personal behaviour’
On Monday morning, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo spoke on La Première radio station about the recently-announced coronavirus measures and, in ...
Booster vaccines already available for all Brussels residents
All residents of the Brussels-Capital Region from 18 years old can make an appointment for a third/booster dose against the coronavirus from this ...
Covid-19 decisions made ‘too hastily’, socialist leader argues
The government is missing a "general lack of method" when it comes to how coronavirus fighting measures are decided on, according to the leader of ...