Belgian ‘with Al Qaeda links’ held in Netherlands
3 March 2004
BRUSSELS – A Belgian man has been held in the Netherlands for the past five weeks on suspicion of belonging to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, Dutch news agency ANP said on Tuesday evening.
The man, who has not been named and is of Moroccan origin, was arrested during a routine traffic control when police discovered he was the subject of an international arrest warrant.
He is currently being held in custody in the Dutch city Vught but the court in Roermond must decide on 18 May whether to extradite him to Morocco.
The Moroccan authorities believe he has met personally with Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and that he helped to organise the May 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca, which left 45 people dead.
If he were extradited and found guilty, he could face the death penalty under Moroccan law.
Four men found guilty of the bombings have already been sentenced to death in Morocco.
The Dutch authorities have said they will reply to the Moroccan request “soon”, but the man’s lawyer, Victor Koppe, has already expressed concern that his client would not get a fair trial if the extradition went ahead.
“My client will definitely not get a fair trail in Morocco. He could possibly get the death sentence,” he said.
Other analysts point out that the Netherlands would find it extremely hard to justify extraditing a citizen of another EU country to a state where he could face possible execution.
They also point out that Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has already requested more information about the extradition request from the Moroccan authorities.
Five men were arrested in the Netherlands last October on allegations that they were linked to the Casablanca bombings. But they were later released due to a lack of evidence.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news