Dries Van Langenhove officially suspected of having broken racism, Holocaust denial and weapons laws

The newly-elected Federal MP Dries Van Langenhove is now officially suspected of having broken the laws on racism, Holocaust denial and the possession of weapons. As well as having been elected as an independent on the far-right Vlaams Belang’s electoral list in Flemish Brabant, Mr Van Langenhove (26) is also the founder and leader of the conservative-nationalist youth organisation Schild & Vrienden.

In September last year the VRT’s investigative documentary programme Pano revealed that the leadership of Schild & Vrienden exchanged racist, sexist and anti-Semitic posts in a private socialist media group.     

It was also revealed that members of the group engaged in the trolling of people that held views different to their own. The idea of obtained weapons to further the cause was also discussed. After the programme was broadcast the East Flemish Judicial Authorities opened an investigation into Schild & Vrienden. Mr Van Langenhove was question and his computer confiscated.

Dries Van Langenhove was question all day Monday, first by the police and then by an Examining Magistrate. The Examining Magistrate took the Decision to formally make him a suspect in the case. This means that the Examining Magistrate believes that although Mr Van Langenhove’s guilt still needs to be proved beyond reasonable doubt (in court), there are enough indications that he broke the laws on racism, Holocaust denial and weapons for a case to be brought.

Dries Van Langenhove was released on the conditional bail. One of the conditions is that he take a guided tour of the Dossin Kazerne in Mechelen, a museum about the persecution, deportation and murder of Jews and gypsies during the Nazi occupation.   

“Innocent until proven guilty”

In a reaction to Monday’s news, the leader of Vlaams Belang Tom Van Grieken told VRT News that

"Dries Van Langenhove’s position has not been put into question. We live in a country where someone is innocent until otherwise proven. We presume the Dries Van Langenhove is completely innocent”.

Mr Van Grieken added that Monday’s events would have no influence on the takes between his party and the Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever on the formation of Flemish Government.