The Belgian transport minister has resigned following accusations that she covered up a failure to act on a report warning of security flaws at the country’s airports.
Jacqueline Galant stepped down on Friday after coming under significant pressure from opposition parties to say what she knew about two reports from the European commission that criticised lax security at Belgian airports.
Her resignation comes less than a month after coordinated attacks on Brussels airport and the city’s metro system that killed 32 people and injured more than 300. Two suicide bombers detonated explosives in the departure lounge of the airport before a separate attack took place on a train.
The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, who is a member of the Mouvement Réformateur [Reformist Movement] party, alongside Galant, said on Friday that he had accepted her resignation.
The pressure on Galant reached fever pitch on Thursday night when two reports criticising security at the two Brussels airports were widely circulated in the Belgian parliament, having already been leaked to the media.
The EU reports, the most recent dating from June 2015, criticised serious deficiencies in security at Belgium’s airports. They highlighted a lack of resources for security checks, the absence of a national security plan and insufficient staff training. Galant had previously declared that she was unaware of the reports, but her detractors said they had proof that the 2015 report was sent to her cabinet.
The reports came to light following the dramatic resignation on Thursday of a senior civil servant at the transport ministry. Laurent Ledoux, the president of the executive committee in Galant’s department, accused his former boss of lying about not having seen the reports. In a blistering resignation letter reprinted all over Belgian media, he said she had “the attitudes of the Gestapo” and was constantly criticising her staff.