Belgium has dropped terrorism charges against a driver who sped into a crowded shopping area in Antwerp last month, sparking fears of a copy-cat terror attack, prosecutors said Friday.
Mohamed R., 39, remains in custody on a weapons offence related to the incident, the federal prosecutor’s office said.
It said a court in the port city of Antwerp had found there was not enough evidence to support a terror charge, in line with a recommendation by the federal prosecutor’s office which investigates terrorist offences.
‘The extension of the detention of the person concerned is only based on violations of the arms legislation,’ it added.
The man was arrested March 23 for driving at high speed into the crowded Meir shopping area in Antwerp, forcing people to jump out of the way but causing no injuries.
The authorities said they found a rifle and bladed weapons in the car following his arrest.
The incident came a day after a similar attack in London that killed five people plus the attacker. It also came a day after the first anniversary of the Brussels suicide bombings in which 32 people died.
The 39-year-old Tunisian was charged March 24 with ‘an attempt to murder in a terrorist manner, an attempt to hit and wound in a terrorist manner and arms infractions.’
A source close to the investigation told AFP at the time that investigators could not confirm if it was a terrorist attack and said the driver made little sense during interrogation.
The suspect had a history of ‘petty crime,’ such as public drunkenness and drug use, but has apparently never been flagged as a radical, a French police source told AFP.