The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Brussels opened 802 files on terrorism in 2017, according to its spokesman, Denis Goeman, who said the figure had remained stable for many years now. “Many of these files were closed without any follow-up because the investigations showed that no offence was committed, but we have to check everything, which is a great deal of work for the magistrates and investigators,” Goeman said.
“Since the attack against Charlie Hebdo and the terrorist threat, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of this type of file,” Goeman added. “Just as many paedophilia files were opened during the Dutroux period, today we are dealing with many terrorism files. These have to do sometimes with people saying they suspect an acquaintance or a neighbour of becoming radicalized or people who notice something suspicious and think of terrorism.”
“Some of this information leads to the opening of important judicial investigations, but many of them are closed without follow-up because nothing suspicious was detected or no offence was committed,” the spokesman added.
In some cases, this conclusion is reached quickly, but in others more time is needed.
“Take, for example, the case of the man who was arrested at the Porte de Hal with bottles of gas in his vehicle. It appeared finally that this was not a case of terrorism, but the file took on a considerable magnitude and required many hours of work. We cannot just decide not to take this type of file seriously, but the workload of our organized crime section and the police is enormous.”