Belgian Minister urges the public to ignore conspiracy theories about the death of a soldier

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Belgium’s justice minister called on the public to ignore conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Jürgen Conings, the heavily armed soldier whose body was discovered on Sunday a month after his disappearance, threatening to kill a leading virologist.

Vincent van Quickenborne said he hoped people would focus on the facts of the case after the body of the 46-year-old corporal was found in the woods of Dilserbos in the municipality of Dilsen-Stokkem near the Dutch border.

Conings, who allegedly shot himself, was found Sunday morning by Johan Tollenaere, mayor of the neighboring town of Maaseik, a few hundred meters from an area searched by soldiers in recent days. Tollenaere was riding a bicycle when he came across the decaying body.

Conings’ aunt told local media she believed security forces killed her nephew. “He wouldn’t kill himself,” she said. ” He has been killed. “

Van Quickenborne said there would be an investigation into the failure of search teams to find Conings, but as the hunt continued it became more likely that he was suicide.

He said: “I also notice that there are conspiracy theories going around… You have to define the search area somewhere. You cannot use all of Belgium as your search area.

“The fact that it was only found a few hundred yards away shows that they were in the right place. Remember, this is a forest the size of 24,000 football fields, densely overgrown. The research also had to be done with caution. But over time, the suicide hypothesis has been taken more and more into account. After all, he was missing a month ago.

Conings, a specialist sniper, has not been seen since his disappearance on May 17 after taking four anti-tank missile launchers, a machine gun and a bulletproof vest from his barracks.

Before disappearing, Conings left letters to his wife and the police in which he threatened to kill Marc Van Ranst, Belgium’s best-known virologist and government adviser on his severe Covid restrictions. Conings, who had close ties to the far right in Flanders, had been flagged as a “serious threat” to the state three months earlier, but military intelligence had failed to respond.

His stated goal of joining “the resistance” against the Covid regulations had led some people to express their support for him during marches near the woods where he was hiding.

Van Ranst was told on Sunday that he could leave a safe house to which he and his family had been transferred. He told the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper that he was “relieved” but that his thoughts were with the children of the deceased.

“For them it’s disastrous and it’s not something to make you happy,” he said. “That there are tens of thousands of people behind someone who intended to kill me continues to resonate. I will always remember it more than Jürgen Conings himself.

Conings was found wearing the bulletproof vest and carrying an FN 5.7 pistol. A knife and ax were also found near the body and the stolen submachine gun was found nearby on Monday. The four anti-tank missile launchers had been recovered from the abandoned Audi car in Conings shortly after its disappearance.

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