After a week manhunt, Belgian military man Jürgen Conings was found dead yesterday. Much in the case hasnt been clarified yet. For example, how is it that Conings was found only now? He was probably dead for several weeks and was found not far from the place where he was looking for extensively.
According to experts who spoke to Belgian public broadcaster VRT, its a combination of coincidence and weather conditions. Indeed, the area was swept by military and police, combing an area meter by meter, but looking at all places is not possible, says Federal Attorney Frédéric Van Leeuw: “It was like looking for a grain of rice on twenty football fields and high grass.”
the end, the body turned out to be 150 meters from the nearest searched area. “150 meters in such a forest, thats a lot, I can guarantee you. It is very complex, wild terrain, with ferns of almost 2 metres high”, says Van Leeuw.
“You have to delineate the search area somewhere. You cannot take the whole of Belgium as a search area,” says Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, to De Standaard.
Conings was found because the mayor of Maaseik smelled a pervasive scent during a mountain bike ride in the Dilserbos. A hunter also smelled that and he went out on research. In the afternoon, police found Coningss body. “The fact that he was found just a few hundred meters away shows that they were in the right place,” says Van Quickenborne.
Mayor Johan Tollenaere van Maaseik talks about the find:
The fact that it took several weeks for Conings to be found and that on the same day two people led the police to his body was feed for conspiracy thinkers. But the course of affairs isnt strange, experts say.
The weather played a role, quotes VRT forensic expert Christl Verbiest. In recent weeks, it was quite cold at first, causing slow decomposition of the body, and then it became very hot: “At such exceptionally high temperatures as in recent days, of course, the decomposition is much faster. That could be an explanation.” The wind was also in the right direction to smell the scent.
During the search, scavenger dogs were deployed, with no results. That is not uncommon, says Alain Remue, head of the Belgian police department looking for missing persons: “The word coincidence is also important in such cases. In x number of files we searched hectares and found nothing.”
Double feeling with girlfriend Conings
The Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst, who was a potential target of Conings, is now back home. He was hiding for weeks. But Van Ranst still gets security. Hes been getting that since last summer after threats to his address.
Conings girlfriends lawyer has also responded to the soldiers find. Bert Partoens resolutely rejects in the Belgian radio programme De Morning conspiracy theories that are taking place amongst Conings supporters: “Justice has spared no effort nor effort to achieve a clear result here, we should be glad that there are no more victims. cases. I have no reason to doubt the investigation at the moment.”
The friend of Conings has a double feeling, says Partoens: “She is relieved that clarity has finally come, but on the other hand, she is also in mourning after what happened.”
The Belgian Federal Prosecutors Office calls suicide the most likely cause of death. Last night and this morning autopsy took place on Coningss body.