Court delays 'terror' extradition ruling

19th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 May 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Roermond Court in the Netherlands has sought more information from Moroccan justice officials before deciding whether it will allow the extradition of a Belgian terrorist suspect to the North African nation.

19 May 2004

AMSTERDAM — Roermond Court in the Netherlands has sought more information from Moroccan justice officials before deciding whether it will allow the extradition of a Belgian terrorist suspect to the North African nation.

The suspect, Khalid B., who holds dual Belgian and Moroccan citizenship, is accused of membership of a terrorist organisation with links to Al Qaeda. But the Roermond judge said on Tuesday the extradition request is too scanty and requested more information.

Morocco suspects B. of membership of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (MICG). Set up by Moroccans who fought in Afghanistan, the terrorist group aims to establish an Islamic emirate in Morocco, similar to that founded by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It is alleged that B. is a member of a Belgian MICG cell that not only recruits volunteers for Jihad, but also helps finance terrorist attacks. He is alleged to have undergone paramilitary training in Afghanistan, where he met Osama bin Laden.

Arrested during a regular traffic patrol in the southern Dutch town of Weert in January, B. denies the allegations levelled against him.  He also denies having been in Afghanistan, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.

Born and raised in the Belgian town of Maaseik, B. worked in a factory operated by Quality Pastries in Weert. But the defendant lost his job due to his arrest.

He said on Tuesday he misses his family. The younger of his two children was born after his arrest.

Lawyer Victor Koppe claims that B. cannot be extradited to Morocco because the Netherlands does not have an extradition treaty with the North African nation. He also said the Netherlands does not place any faith in the Moroccan justice system.

B. can only be extradited based on a United Nations treaty established to combat the financing of terrorism, but Morocco must clearly prove that B. helped gather funds for terrorist attacks.

In the laboured judicial correspondence with Morocco, the Moroccan justice authorities have only once mentioned the Casablanca bombings in May 2003. B. is suspected of having helped finance the attacks, which killed more than 40 people, including 12 suicide bombers.

Koppe claims the case against B. largely rests upon the testimony of a co-suspect and thus questioned how reliable such a statement is. Despite this, it is known that Belgian authorities have had B. under surveillance for some time.

Roermond Court will hand down its ruling over the legality of the Morocco's extradition request in July. Dutch Justice Minister Piet-Hein Donner will then have final say whether B. will be extradited to Morocco.

Defence lawyer Koppe said the Netherlands has never extradited a person to Morocco.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch + Belgian news

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