Minister under fire over gangster's escape

18th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 July 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgian Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx has come under heavy fire for the latest escape and police hunt for top gangster Kaplan Murat.

18 July 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgian Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx has come under heavy fire for the latest escape and police hunt for top gangster Kaplan Murat.

Murat remained at large on Monday night despite an almost nine-hour police operation to arrest him in which shots were fired.

He had failed to return to prison on Sunday after being granted penitentiary leave, but eluded police capture in Wavre after holing up in a Brico store.

Minister Onkelinx came immediately under heavy criticism, having personally granted permission for Murat's penitentiary leave.

The federal government said it was "bad misjudgment" and a "silly decision", newspaper 'De Standaard' reported.

Murat has a long criminal record and has escaped on previous occasions. Moreover, he was still to be sentenced for an alleged crime he committed two years ago while on parole.

Coalition government parties in the Parliament were also critical of Onkelinx. Left-wing Spirit MP Walter Muls (linked with the Socialist SP.A) said it was "unimaginable that the justice minister was so naive to believe that Kaplan would return".

Liberal MR MP Charles Michel — who was present in the Wavre city centre — questioned how "this was possible?" Together with Humanist CDH MP Melchior Wathelet, he called for an urgent meeting of the parliament's justice commission.

The extreme-right Flemish Interest demanded the resignation of Onkelinx, but Christian Democrat CD&V MP Tony Van Parys stopped short of that, despite his criticism of the Socialist PS minister.

Van Parys is instead demanding a thorough investigation into several recent controversies, such as the escape of Turkish militant Fehriye Erdal, the release of convicted child sex offender Abdallah Ait Oud and now Murat.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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