Three men who placed a wreath at a Holocaust monument in Belgium were charged with violating the country’s emergency measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The men, including a City Council member from the town of Boortmeerbeek, were notified of a police investigation against them last week after laying a wreath on April 19 at a local monument commemorating the 1943 hijacking by resistance fighters of a train transporting Jews from Belgium to be murdered at Auschwitz.
On Friday, Belgium lifted some restrictions on movement, ending its lockdown. But gatherings and celebrations are still prohibited, leading to the police action against the three men, who are all members of the National Combatants Organization of Belgium, the Belga news agency reported.
The councilman, Michel Baert, protested the police action against him and his fellow activists.
“This was not, and should not be treated as, an illegal party,” he told Belga. “This was an essential action out of respect for the resistance fighters, Holocaust victims and family members.”
Baert also said that the three commemorators wore face masks, kept distance and limited the action to only three people to avoid violating the emergency measures.
Michael Freilich, a Jewish lawmaker for the New Flemish Alliance party, also protested the action against the activists and offered to pay any fines or legal fees imposed on them in connection to it.
More than 100 Jews were saved in the Boortmeerbeek train hijacking, known also as the German 20th Transport action.