June 20 (UPI) — Authorities in Belgium on Sunday discovered the body of a far-right extremist who was the subject of a monthlong manhunt after threatening the nation’s top COVID-19 doctor.
The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said that a body, believed to be that of 46-year-old former soldier Jurgen Conings, was found in a wooded area of the town of Dislen-Stockem on Sunday.
It added that the cause of death was “likely, according to the first findings, attributable to a suicide by firearm,” but had “yet to be confirmed” as they waited for a forensic examination.
Conings disappeared on May 17 after making repeated threats against Marc Van Ranst, one of Belgium’s top virologists, for his role in the nation’s COVID-19 response.
In a letter to his girlfriend on that date, Conings said he “would change society forever” saying that virologists and the government “have taken everything away from us” and “decide how you and I should live” along with “the so-called political elite.
“I don’t care if I die or not,” he wrote.
His SUV was found days later near Hoge Kempen National Park and authorities found four rocket launchers and ammunition taken from an army depot. He was also believed to have been armed with an army semiautomatic pistol and submachine gun.
Conings joined the military at 18 but was demoted and revoked of his security clearance last year after making racist comments and threats.
Despite the demotion and being labeled as a “potentially dangerous extremist” by security services, Belgium’s defense minister told a parliamentary hearing that Conings retained an access card to an ammunition depot.
Van Ranst, who had been placed under protective custody and taken to a secure location by Belgian authorities last month said Sunday that his thoughts “go out to the relatives and children” of Conings.
“For them this is very sad news, because they lose a father, a relative or a friend,” he said.