Expatica news

Antwerp denies refugee terror inquiries

18 July 2005

BRUSSELS — The Antwerp public prosecution department has denied it is investigating suspicious travels of Pakistani and Afghan refugees.

The city’s prosecution office also dismissed reports that Antwerp’s social security OCMW had lodged a complaint about the asylum seekers.

The denial came after various newspapers said the Antwerp and federal public prosecutors were investigating the asylum seekers on suspicion of terrorism.

The refugees were said to travel to and from their country of origin several times per year and that authorities suspect them of drugs crimes or even links to international terrorism.

All of the suspects receive benefits from the Antwerp social security service OCMW, which has raised suspicions about 30 legalised refugees, newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ reported on Monday.

OCMV chairwoman Monica de Coninck said she can understand the refugees return to their home country on occasion, but questioned the fact they could return three to four times per year.

“What are they doing there? I don’t know and we can’t investigate that. We have passed these dossiers onto the immigration affairs service,” she said.

OCMW board member and Antwerp Liberal (VLD) party chairman Marco Laenens questioned where the refugees were getting their travel money?

“These co-called refugees came here because it was so dangerous in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere. Why do they keep traveling back and forth after they have been legalised?” Laenens wondered.

“These are also people who knock at the door of the OCMW because they don’t have any financial means.”

Interior Minister Patrick Dewael is monitoring the case very closely, his spokesman said.

The Antwerp prosecution department was reported to have started an investigation and due to the terrorism suspicions, the federal prosecution department was also said to be investigating the matter.

The 30 refugees were also under suspicion for possible drug smuggling crimes because opium and cannabis are cultivated in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news