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8 Sep, 2023 11:24

Belgian justice minister tries to clean up ‘pee-gate’ scandal

Vincent Van Quickenborne has apologized after guests at his home urinated on a law enforcement vehicle
Belgian justice minister tries to clean up ‘pee-gate’ scandal

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has apologized to the country’s police force amid a weeks-long scandal after drunken guests at his 50th birthday party urinated on a police vehicle.

On Thursday, the minister appeared before parliament to explain what he knew about the scandal that had since been dubbed “pipigate,” or “pee-gate” in English. During his speech, Quickenborne apologized to the country’s entire police force, insisting that he was not to blame for the incident.

“I completely understand that this outraged them. This is absolutely unacceptable,” he added, claiming that he was unaware of the incident the night it happened.

“I am ashamed that people I invited at my house peed against a police van, not once, but three times. It is disgusting, especially considering why the van is there,” the minister said.

Van Quickenborn is being provided with police protection and round-the-clock surveillance after a criminal group tried to kidnap him last year.

One of the key pieces of evidence in the scandal is CCTV footage that allegedly depicts Van Quickenborn joking about the incident and mimicking a urinating movement as he stood outside laughing with another guest later in the night. The minister has claimed that he has no memory of making the gesture but suggested he could have been playing “air guitar” as he is a self-described “metalhead.” 

“Some say these images show me in the act of mimicking the act of peeing. The person I was accompanying thinks... it is an air guitar solo… I admit I play air guitar sometimes... It is possible, I honestly do not know,” he said.

Van Quickenborn has noted that prosecutors have opened an investigation into the incident and that he has urged three of his friends, who are suspected of being the culprits, to turn themselves in.

Police unions and opposition politicians have nevertheless been outraged by the incident and, despite Van Quicknborn’s rejection of the account, are demanding the minister’s resignation.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo was also one of the party’s guests but has stated that he did not witness anything inappropriate and has not backed calls for his minister to resign.