Belgian transportion minister resigns over security lapses

BRUSSELS, April 15 (UPI) — The head of Belgium’s transportation agency resigned under pressure Friday following accusations of security lapses prior to the March terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Transport Minister Jacqueline Galant is the first government official to leave in the wake of the March 22 bombings at Zaventem airport and the Maelbeek subway station in which 32 people were killed and more than 300 were injured.

Galant said she never saw a confidential 2015 European Union report, leaked by opposition parties, showing security lapses at Belgian airports and warning that the country’s civil aviation authority, an agency of the transport ministry, was not adequately conducting inspections and checks. Earlier this week, Laurent Ledoux, the ministry’s senior civil servant, criticized Galant’s management methods and said she ignored recommendations to pay for additional airport security monitoring.

Galant also took criticism this week from Belgium’s parliament, with some members blaming her for a labor dispute with air traffic controllers, provoked by a dispute over pensions; a walkout led to disruptions Tuesday and Wednesday at the airport.

As she departed Friday, Galant blamed a personal campaign against her, saying, “My way of acting has at times annoyed certain people, but it has also been applauded by others.”

Prime Minister Charles Michel had defended Galant, but said her resignation was appropriate because her office failed to inform him of the EU report. Michel said the government has commissioned an analysis of how the report was handled by Belgian government officials after it was received.

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