Belgium charged a suspect thought to be the fugitive third Brussels airport bomber with
terrorist murder, as a peace march today for the victims was cancelled for security reasons after the attacks in the heart of Europe.
The postponement of the Easter Sunday rally underscored the tension in Belgium as police track members of an Islamic State group cell linked to both Tuesday’s Brussels attacks
that killed 31 as well as the Paris assaults in November.
The airport suspect officially identified as Faycal C, and named by sources close to the inquiry as Faycal Cheffou, was arrested on Thursday night as investigators believe he
could be the third man pictured in airport surveillance footage alongside two suicide bombers.
The third man, wearing a distinctive dark hat and light-coloured jacket, has been the subject of a massive manhunt after he fled the scene when his device failed to go off in the attack at Zaventem airport.
In the grieving Belgian capital, a defiant “March Against Fear” had been planned for today from the central Place de La Bourse, which has become a shrine to the victims, but was
called off after authorities said the mass gathering could draw much-needed resources away from the investigation.
“Let us allow the security services to do their work and that the march, which we too want to take part in, be delayed for several weeks,” Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur said.
March organisers said the “security of our citizens is an absolute priority. We join the authorities in proposing a delay and ask people not to come this Sunday.”
Brussels airport meanwhile said an examination of the main building housing the departure hall wrecked by two suicide bombers showed the structure is stable and authorities
will now see if temporary check-in desks can be installed.
In a separate statement earlier the airport said it did not expect to be able to reopen before Tuesday, with a partial resumption of passenger services, as it repaired the damage and put in place new security measures.
Ministers insist they did everything possible to prevent Tuesday’s attacks and track a network also linked to November’s Paris attacks, but the Belgian government is facing
a torrent of criticism at home and abroad.
Many believe it failed to do enough to stop young Belgian fighters going to Syria, and two senior ministers have offered to resign after it emerged airport bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui
had been deported from Turkey as a “terrorist fighter”.
“It is an endless nightmare for a country turned upside down,” said Le Soir daily in a front-page editorial.
Heavily armed soldiers and police patrolled Brussels and the airport yesterday, as the city that is home to the EU and NATO headquarters remained on high alert.
Prosecutors charged three people including Faycal C, who is the first person formally accused over the suicide attacks on the airport and the Maalbeek metro station.
Le Soir said on its website that the suspect had been identified by a taxi driver who drove the three bombers to the airport on Tuesday.