Minister's talks over arrest of top gangster angers MPs
19 July 2006, BRUSSELS — Negotiations took place on Tuesday night between the lawyer of Kaplan Murat and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx over the surrender of the fugitive gangster.
19 July 2006
BRUSSELS — Negotiations took place on Tuesday night between the lawyer of Kaplan Murat and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx over the surrender of the fugitive gangster.
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said he was not aware of the negotiations to recapture Murat, who eluded police after a wild car chase and gunfire in Wavre on Monday.
But opposition Christian Democrat CD&V MP Tony Van Parys said talks were held over the conditions to which Murat would be prepared to surrender to police.
Van Parys was amazed at the discovery and said his party would demand that Parliament speaker Herman De Croo reconvene the justice commission as soon as possible.
"It is unacceptable that the Minister of Justice negotiated with a weapons dangerous gangster, who — moreover — breached her trust. Minister Onkelinx is obligated to explain this to the parliament and the nation as quickly as possible," he said.
The extreme-right Flemish Interest said it was a "gross scandal" that the minister negotiated with Murat. Parliamentary leader Gerolf Annemans lodged a request for more information from the minister.
Coalition government parties Liberal VLD and Liberal MR are not satisfied with Onkelinx' explanation about Murat's escape, but they refused to back a Flemish Interest motion on Tuesday that would have led to the Socialist PS minister's dismissal.
Onkelinx defended herself on Wednesday, claiming that based on the facts and advice, she believed the right decision was made to grant penitentiary leave to Murat, despite the fact he failed to return to prison on Sunday.
"It is my decision and I accept the responsibility for it," she said.
Onkelinx also stressed that Murat was not a Marc Dutroux or a murderer, a statement that angered the MR party, whose MP Charles Michel also said Murat was no Robin Hood. "I give you a yellow card," he said.
Van Parys added that Onkelinx was given a yellow card several months ago over the escape of a Turkish militant. "And twice yellow is red," he said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news