In a bizarre twist, a man arrested as the main suspect in the Brussels airport bombing and then released was re-arrested and re-released after he broke into a flat outside the Belgian capital that had been searched by anti-terror police, local media reported. Faycal Cheffou was detained on suspicion of burglary on the night of 29 March in Merchtem, a town some 15km north-west of Brussels, according to la Dernier Heure newspaper.
Police were called at a local address by a neighbour who spotted a barefooted man in dark clothing scaling a garden fence to then climb up to a third floor balcony before bursting inside a connected apartment. Earlier that day the same flat had been visited by a police squad from Liege as part of an anti-terror probe. The occupant was reportedly released after questioning.
Upon receiving report of a burglary, officers returned to the scene and forced the door open to find Cheffou taking a shower. The 30-year-old was taken in for examination and reportedly explained the flat belonged to a friend who had agreed to host him while he looked for some privacy following his previous arrest in connection with the Brussels airport bombing.
The friend however was out of town and suggested he makes his way inside from the back. The story proved convincing and Cheffou was let go. IBTimes UK contacted Merchtem police but no officer authorised to comment on the case was available.
It was the second time in five days that the freelance journalist was taken into custody and then released by police. After the double blast at Zaventem airport, he was in fact identified as the 'man in the hat' seen walking inside the terminal alongside the suicide bombers in security camera footage.
On 24 March he was captured and charged with committing terrorist murders only to be set free two days later. His lawyer explained phone calls Cheffou made the day of the attacks located him elsewhere as the detonations went off at the airport.
The unidentified 'man in the hat' is still on the loose. 32 people were killed in the bombing and a connected blast at the Maelbeek metro station in central Brussels. The carnage was claimed by the Islamic State (Isis) group.