Prosecutors investigating the cause of Belgium’s African swine fever (ASF) outbreak have made two arrests, which appear to be linked to wild boar being imported from Eastern Europe, according to reports.
The Belgian news media is reporting that searches took place and four people were interviewed last Wednesday as part of the ongoing judicial investigation into the outbreak in the country’s Luxembourg region, which was discovered when two wild boar tested positive in September. Subsequently two arrests have been made, with the detention of one of the suspects extended by a month, according to the Landbouwleven website.
Luxembourg prosecutor’s office said all those arrested ‘benefit from the presumption of innocence’. The Public Service of Wallonia (SPW) indicated that an official of the Department of Nature and Forests (DNF) was among those arrested.
The reason for the arrests have not been made public, but the Belgium media is linking them to the suspected imports of infected wild boars for hunting from Eastern Europe in the spring of 2018. The reports suggest the people arrested are a private yacht overseer and a hunting manager.
The Walloon Minister of Nature and Forestry, René Collin, said he had no further information at this stage. “The judge conducts his investigation in complete independence.It goes without saying that measures will be taken if wrongdoing has been committed and With the greatest firmness, for the time being, the presumption of innocence must be respected, ” he said in a statement.
More than 450 cases of ASF have been confirmed in wild boar in Belgium since September, with new cases still emerging at a worrying rate, in some cases in new locations beyond the original control zone. In January, positive cases were confirmed very close to the French border, putting France on high alert. The French authorities have stepped up their efforts to keep the virus out, including a wild boar cull close to the border.