A Brussels police chief turned up drunk to a crisis a meeting on the day of last week’s terror attacks, a local newspaper has reported.
Dernière Heure says the unnamed senior police officer was visibly intoxicated when top officials from the Ixelles district met after the attacks. He reportedly showed up late and was unable to answer questions about sensitive information in his sector.
When colleagues suspected he had been drinking, he submitted to an alcohol test which found he had more than 0.8 per mille alcohol in his blood, a level at which it would be illegal to drive.
His weapon was immediately confiscated and he was sent home.
The officer now faces disciplinary proceedings, however this is not the first time this has happened. An internal report published in September 2015 found serious alcohol problems within the Ixelles police force.
“They would drink all day at the expense of work and colleagues who want to work,” the report said. “This damages the image of the police. Management is aware but ignores the problem to avoid causing a scandal.”
Belgian authorities have been widely criticised for their lacklustre response to international terrorism. After last week’s attacks, Turkey announced it had it had warned Belgium last year that one of the Brussels attackers, Ibrahim El Bakraoui, had been flagged as a “foreign terrorist fighter.”
Despite these warnings, no action appears to have been taken.
Some of the attackers were already on the run from French authorities, but were able to hide in safe houses in Belgium and plot the attacks. Just a week before the attacks, authorities arrested suspected Paris bomber Salah Abdeslam, who had been living in the notorious district of Molenbeek for several weeks before he was captured.
It was also revealed that police found hidden camera footage of a senior executive at Belgium’s Centre for the Study of Nuclear Energy while searching the apartment belonging to the girlfriend of a terror suspect.
Despite fears jihadists were planning an attack on nuclear facilities, Belgium did not deploy soldiers to guard nuclear sites until two weeks after the discovery.