'Pipigate': The Belgium Justice Minister splashed by a scandal after his birthday party

Screenshot of a surveillance video of the Belgian Justice Minister's home broadcast during his hearing in Parliament.
Screenshot of a surveillance video of the Belgian Justice Minister's home broadcast during his hearing in Parliament. Copyright Belgian House of Representatives
By Gael Camba
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An investigation for "insulting behavior" was opened after guests at Belgian Justice Minister's birthday party were accused of urinating on a police car

The Belgian Minister of Justice will surely remember his 50th birthday. Three of his guests are accused of urinating on a police car parked outside his home on the night of 14 to 15 August.


Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne appeared before Parliament on Thursday following the opening of an investigation on 23 August. He told the Belgian parliament that he had not seen three guests at his birthday party urinate on a police van outside his home and apologised for the scandalous incident.

"I would like to apologise to every police officer in the country [...] I completely understand why they are outraged. It's absolutely unacceptable," he said at an extraordinary three-hour hearing before MPs on the Justice Committee.

Van Quickenborne says he called the three suspects "and insulted them". He claimed that he had helped the investigation by asking the three suspects to appear before the public prosecutor, who was able to have them questioned.

The minister reveals his footage

As soon as the affair broke on 23 August, with the revelations of several Flemish media having seen the images of the three guests relieving themselves on the van, Van Quickenborne claimed not to have been present at the time and to have been completely unaware of these acts.

But on Monday 4 September, the Flemish public broadcaster VRT cast doubt on his version, on the basis of other images to which it had access.

Belgium's Minister of Justice must explain himself to Parliament after guests at his birthday party allegedly urinated on a police car outside his home.NICOLAS MAETERLINCK / BELGA / AFP

The next day, the minister decided to show another channel his own footage, taken from cameras fixed to his home, in which he can be seen visibly tipsy as he walks his last guest to the door at 4 a.m.

In the footage, the Minister is seen leaning back as if to mimic the gesture of someone urinating, next to his friend, who looks hilarious.

Cautiously, the Minister described the gesture as "that of a guitar play", but said that his mind was cloudy at the time.

He also said that his last guest, one of his best friends, had "nothing to do with the incidents" that marked his 50th birthday party.

The affair, dubbed "pipigate" [pee-peegate] by the Belgian media, has put this Flemish liberal leader in a difficult position, with several police unions calling on him to resign.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who made a brief appearance at the birthday party, was himself questioned on Thursday by a journalist at a press conference in Brussels on another topic.

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