Belgian transport minister Jacqueline Galant has stepped down over accusations she ignored lapses in security at Brussels airport before the attacks of March 22.
A confidential document shows security lapses at Belgium’s airports were identified by EU inspectors in 2015.
Jacqueline Galant had denied having seen the report, which was leaked by opposition parties.
ISIS attacks on Zaventem airport and a Brussels metro station left 32 people dead.
Belgian PM Charles Michel had previously defended Jacqueline Galant, and he had told parliament that her office had not seen the critical EU report.
However, on April 15, following the publication of further documents on April 14, Charles Michel said that “contrary to what was communicated to me” the report had been discussed, according to public broadcaster RTBF.
Charles Michel said he had met Jacqueline Galant on April 15 and following the meeting the minister submitted her resignation to the king.
Jacqueline Galant wrote in her resignation letter that “the orchestrated and theatrical confusion of the last 48 hours prevents me from continuing in the performance of my duties”.
The minister’s resignation followed that of Belgian federal transport agency chief Laurent Ledoux on April 14.
Laurent Ledoux had complained of a lack of funding from Jacqueline Galant and said that the minister herself should “take responsibility and step aside”.
Jacqueline Galant said on April 15 that she was shocked by the way Laurent Ledoux had resigned, and said he was carrying out a “media crusade”.
The 2015 European Commission report, published by public broadcaster RTBF, cited “serious deficiencies” and said airport security programs, air carriers and suppliers were “not adequately monitored”.
The two suicide bombers who attacked Brussels airport blew themselves up in the departures area and would not normally have faced any security checks.
The bomb attacks on the airport and Maelbeek metro station occurred just four days after Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was caught near his home in Molenbeek. He had been on the run for four months.
Belgium’s parliament is to hold an inquiry into how the attacks were handled.
The interior and justice ministers both offered to resign in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, following revelations that Turkey had warned Belgian authorities about one of the attackers when it deported him back to Belgium, but the prime minister asked them to stay on.
Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested in Belgium on April 8, has admitted being the “man in the hat” seen with the suicide bombers at Brussels airport, prosecutors say.
Belgian prosecutors say Mohamed Abrini told investigators that he was at the scene of the March 22 bombings.
Mohamed Abrini, 31, is also wanted in connection with the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last November.
He is one of six men arrested in Brussels on April 8. Four have been charged with terror offences.
The attacks at Zaventem airport and a metro station in Brussels left 32 people dead.
Officials believe those who carried out the Brussels and the Paris attacks were part of the same network backed by ISIS.
Mohamed Abrini was placed in detention by the Belgian judge in charge on the investigation into the Paris attacks. His fingerprints and DNA were found in two “safe houses” in Brussels, as well as in a car used during the Paris attacks, investigators say.
Brussels International Airport is ready to partially reopen but flights will not restart until Friday evening (April 1) at the earliest.
Zaventem airport has been closed since March 22 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departure hall.
The departures area would only be operating at 20% of normal capacity, the airport’s operators said in a statement.
The attacks on the airport and another suicide bomb on the Brussels Metro killed 32 people and injured hundreds.
ISIS has said it was behind the bombings.
The reopening announcement follows days of tests for a temporary check-in system at Zaventem.
“Brussels Airport Company has received the go-ahead from the fire services and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority for a partial restart of passenger flights at the airport,” the airport’s statement said.
“The airport is thus technically ready for a restart of passenger flights in the temporary infrastructure foreseen for check-in.
“However, the authorities have yet to take a formal decision on the restart date. Until Friday evening no passenger flights will take place at Brussels Airport.”
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The airport said the temporary system could receive 800 departing passengers per hour, far fewer than normal.
However, the baggage reclaim and arrivals area was only slightly damaged and has since been made ready for use, it added.
“The final step for the restart is the formal political approval. In the meantime, it has been decided that there will be no passenger flights until Friday evening.”
Zaventem Airport CEO Arnaud Feist said earlier this week that the airport would take months to reopen fully.
Meanwhile, Brussels airport police have said they criticized security well ahead of the attacks.
In an open letter to authorities published by Belgian broadcaster VRT, police said they had sent “strong daily signals regarding the overall security at the airport”.
They complained “there had not been any security control of passengers or luggage from the airport complex right up to the centralized body searches” area.
They also alleged that too many airport employees had criminal backgrounds.
Police are still searching for the third man who took part in the airport attacks. The man, pictured on CCTV wearing a hat, was said to have fled the scene without detonating his explosive device.
The two airport bombers who died have been named as Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui.
Ibrahim el-Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid el-Bakraoui, blew himself up at Maelbeek metro station.
Police later found a computer in which Ibrahim el-Bakraoui left a final message.
In a bid to identify the third attacker at Brussels airport, whose bomb did not explode and who fled, Belgian police have released a new CCTV footage.
The attacker is seen wearing light-colored clothing and a hat.
The death toll from March 22 attacks in Brussels rose to 35 after four people died of their injuries in hospital.
More than 300 people were also injured in the attacks, which were claimed by ISIS.
The death toll does not include three attackers, two of whom blew themselves up at the airport and one in the metro.
Investigators have not commented on reports in the Belgian media that the third airport attacker is Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist arrested on March 24 outside the prosecutor’s office.
On March 26, a man named Faycal C was charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders”, a prosecutor’s statement said.
Separately, three men were charged on March 28 with belonging to a terrorist group.
The three, whose names were given as Yassine A, Mohamed B and Aboubaker O, were arrested during raids on 13 addresses on March 27. A fourth man was released without charge.
Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block announced the latest deaths in a tweet: “Four patients deceased in hospital. Medical teams did all possible. Total victims: 35. Courage to all the families.”
Of the 35 victims, seven have still to be identified, the Belgian crisis center said on March 28.
At least 12 of the victims are foreign nationals from the US, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and China, it said earlier.
More arrests have also taken place in relation to what authorities say were planned attacks on France.
A man already in Belgian custody was reported to have been charged in connection with a foiled attack in the Paris region.
Separately, Dutch police announced on March 27 that they had detained a 32-year-old Frenchman in Rotterdam at the request of French authorities.
The man was arrested on suspicion of preparing an attack in France and will be extradited to the country. Three other people were also detained.
The Frenchman is allegedly linked to Reda Kriket, who was arrested in a Paris suburb on March 24 and said to be in the “advanced stage” of plotting an attack, AFP news agency reported, citing a police source.
Brussels international airport will be closed until March 29, Belgian authorities say, following attacks in the capital that left 31 dead.
Zaventem airport was the first target on March 22, with two suicide bombers triggering explosions in the departures hall.
An hour later, 20 people died in the suicide bombing of a metro station.
On March 26, Belgian prosecutors announced that one arrested man had now been charged with terrorist offences.
ISIS has said it carried out both the Brussels attacks, and the ones in Paris, in which 130 people died in November 2015.
Brussels airport authorities said the “investigative work related to the judicial inquiry into the airport terminal has been completed” but that passenger activity could not resume before March 29.
A team of airport engineers and technicians is being given access to the terminal building for the first time since the attack.
They will assess the damage and stability of the building. The airport authorities will also install new security measures.
Zaventem airport check-in area suffered severe damage when two blasts seconds apart hit opposite ends of the departures hall.
Some people fleeing the first blast were caught by the second.
The two suicide bombers there have been identified by DNA as Najim Laachraoui and Brahim el-Bakraoui. They were pictured in an airport CCTV image before the explosions with a third man, on the right of the picture, who has yet to be identified or apprehended.
Brahim el-Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, carried out the attack on the Maelbeek metro attack.
In Brussels, buses are running and most metro stations have reopened but there are still soldiers patrolling the streets and although people are defiant, they are aware that there are possibly still other suspects at large.
On March 26, Belgian police continued operations to search for members of the terror cell, in particular the missing man from the airport image and a man suspected of aiding the metro attack.
Twelve people were arrested on March 24 and 25 in police raids in Belgium, France and Germany.
Branislav Milinkovic, Serbian ambassador to NATO, has died after jumping from a multi-storey car park in Brussels airport.
The Serbian government confirmed that Branislav Milinkovic, 52, had died on Tuesday, but did not give details. It paid tribute to his work.
Emergency services were called to the scene, but were not able to revive him, sources at Brussels airport said.
Prosecutors in Brussels say they are treating Branislav Milinkovic’s death as a suicide.
He is thought to have been at the airport on Tuesday evening to meet Serbia’s deputy foreign minister and other officials who had arrived in Brussels for diplomatic talks.
The incident happened at around 18:00 local time.
After talking with colleagues, Branislav Milinkovic suddenly strolled to a barrier, climbed over and flung himself to the ground below, a diplomat told the Associated Press.
Branislav Milinkovic, Serbian ambassador to NATO, has died after jumping from a multi-storey car park in Brussels airport
Earlier on Tuesday, Branislav Milinkovic had seemed “completely normal, talking to journalists in the corridors of NATO”, a Serbian journalist in Brussels told the AFP news agency.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” by the news.
“Ambassador Branislav Milinkovic was a highly respected representative of his country and will be missed at NATO headquarters,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Serbia is not a member of NATO but it does have a mission at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels because it belongs to the Partnership for Peace programme, which helps countries co-ordinate on defence and security issues.
Branislav Milinkovic had been an ambassador since 2009.
He had previously worked as a journalist and was an active opponent of Serbia’s former leader Slobodan Milosevic. Branislav Milinkovic leaves behind a wife and a six-year-old son.
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