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Belgian ex-Guantanamo inmates cleared

BRUSSELS, – Moussa Zemmouri and Mesut Sun were captured respectively in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001 in the US "war on terror" and transferred to the detention centre in Cuba late that year.

"We judged that their presence (in Afghanistan and Pakistan), without any other evidence, did not deserve to be followed up," said Lieve Pellens, spokeswoman for the Belgian federal prosecutors office.

"The case was dismissed by the Brussels chamber on April 30," she said, confirming information on the Internet site of the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir.

Zemmouri, a Dutch speaker of Moroccan origin, and Sen, a Brussels resident originally from Turkey, were suspected by US authorities of working with Taliban militants and the Al Qaeda network.

They were sent to Belgium in April 2005 and charged here with membership of a criminal organisation, but were released pending trial.

Pellens said that, following an investigation, "nothing" could be found to incriminate the two, the only Belgian nationals to have been detained in Guantanamo.

"Everything came up negative," she said.

US President Barack Obama has said he would close Guantanamo prison by January 2010 and he has asked the European Union to host some of up to 60 of the inmates who are judged to pose the least risk to the public.

Belgium has said it would be prepared to study the possibility of accepting a few former detainees who cannot return home because they might face torture or even the death penalty there.