Man arrested in Belgium for false claims in Ghent hostage case


Brussels: An 18-year-old man has been detained on charges of filing a false report over an alleged hostage situation in the northern Belgian city of Ghent Monday.

Police were called to the scene of the alleged hostage situation Monday morning following a report that four armed men were holding another man hostage in an apartment building in the Dampoort neighbourhood of the city, Xinhua reported.

Special units of the police force carried out a raid on the premises, making a series of arrests, and apparently rescuing the hostage.

But the Ghent prosecutor said Monday evening that an 18-year-old man will be brought before the court on charges of making a false declaration.

The man claimed that his friend was the victim of a kidnap attempt by four men armed with Kalashnikovs.

This was contradicted by the apparent victim, who said there were no guns or threats made against him.

"In the house were found no weapons or drugs," said spokesperson for the prosecutor Annemie Serlippens. "Only the 18-year-old speaks of four men with Kalashnikovs. The victim has been extensively interrogated and said that there was no kidnapping, threats or weapons. There is no reason to believe the story of the 18-year-old."

The unnamed 18-year-old has been identified locally as an illegal immigrant who has a recent conviction for drug offences.

The man faces a potential two-year prison sentence and a fine for false reporting.

"We could not help but take the story seriously," said Serlippens. "The man was very convincing, and a lot of people and resources were used. We are investigating whether the man was under the influence (of drug) when he made the statement."

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