Belgian Transport Minister Resigns After Leak of Secret Report Criticizing Security
Belgium’s transport minister resigned on April 15 after a confidential European Union report criticizing security at Brussels airport was leaked.
The resignation comes in the wake of the March 22 terrorist bombings in the Belgium capital that left 32 people dead. Suicide bombers detonated explosives at Brussels airport and in the subway system. Sixteen people were killed at the airport and a total of 270 people were wounded in the two attacks.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack shortly afterwards.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said after he discussed the report with Transport Minister Jacqueline Galant, “the minister presented her resignation to the King and the King accepted it.”
Galant said the leaked report was part of a vendetta against her by a disgruntled senior transport official. She also insisted she was always on top of security concerns.
The secret report from April 28, 2015 was revealed by two Belgian opposition parties, which said the oversight of security measures at airports in Belgium were flawed. It also cited serious problems in the way safety checks were carried out. The report criticized security supervision at the airport section after travelers have have cleared security checks and around the planes themselves.
The bombs went off in the departure area of Brussels airport, part of the facility that was not covered in the report.
Galant says she had not seen the report but the prime minister said “a summary of this report was discussed and sent to the minister’s cabinet in June 2015.”
In a press conference, Galant rejected accusations that she was careless about security.
“If there’s an area I always paid attention to it’s that one,” she said.
Galant claimed she is the victim of a “media crusade” organized by a senior transport official whose attacks on her would not stop until she stepped down. Galant accused her opposers of “riding the current wave of worry” sparked by the terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said security is a priority.
“The government will work in perfect cooperation with the commission of inquiry so that all transparency can be ensured and to draw lessons for the future,” Michel said.
“The security of all Belgians is a priority for this government,” he added.
A replacement for Galant has not been announced. The prime minister said he would do so as soon as possible.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.