Correspondent in Brussels
The Deputy Prime Minister and Belgian Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne, has been in turmoil for two weeks. At issue: the “incidents” which occurred on the sidelines of the evening he organized on August 14 in his villa in Coutrai to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. These incidents became so widespread that the Belgian media gave it a name: the "pipigate". Three of the minister's guests, who were quite tipsy, urinated on a police vehicle which was near his residence. Neither seen nor known? Nay! A camera installed in the street filmed everything. The images were sent to the West Flanders public prosecutor's office, which immediately opened an investigation for contempt. The three individuals have made themselves known and should soon be auditioned.
This case, revealed on August 23 by the popular Dutch-language newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, is all the more embarrassing for Vincent Van Quickenborne since he and his family have been benefiting for a year from reinforced security following a foiled kidnapping plan aimed at the minister and fomented by powerful drug circles. The man is also not very popular in the ranks of the police unions. He defends a reform of the pension system which is not very favorable to police officers.
Less than a year from the Belgian elections, scheduled for June 2023, the opposition and the far right are making a big splash out of this affair. Van Quickenborne is a member of the Open VLD, like Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. The N-VA, the most powerful party in the north of the country, demanded an apology. The Vlaams Belang, a far-right party, is asking for his resignation. Under pressure, the minister presented his apologies on Thursday to the members of the Justice Commission of the Federal Parliament, urgently summoned to hear him. “It’s disgusting, it’s unacceptable, and I would like to apologize to the employees of the police zone, to the police officers who had to secure the premises a few hours before my arrival, to the police officers who travel every day in jumpsuits, and who take it all as a personal attack. No policeman deserves this,” he said during his hearing. The minister, who admitted to having drunk a lot that evening, also had to justify himself at length about the course of the evening, knowing that he is accused of having been informed of the exploits of his guests during this famous party . And having fun with it.
For the time being, Alexander De Croo has not made any comment on this case. “It’s an unfortunate story. It is appalling. But Van Quickenborne cannot be held responsible for the attitude of guests who behaved like donkeys. Should he ask all these guests, when they arrive at this party, not to urinate on a police vehicle? », asks the advisor to a minister.