Expatica news

Belgium in crackdown on E Europe crime gangs

2 February 2004

BRUSSELS – The Belgian government is planning a major crackdown on gangs of criminals from central and eastern Europe that it says have been terrorising the country in recent months.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Interior Minister Patrick Dewael and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx held an emergency meeting on Monday morning to discuss the issue.

Sources say the three are concerned a series of anti-crime agreements Belgium struck with a number of central and eastern European countries last year do not seem to be working.

Under those deals, the government’s in the alleged criminals’ home countries pledged to put on trial any of their citizens suspected of committing violent crimes in Belgium.

But a year on, little concrete progress has been made, complain Verhofstadt and his government colleagues.

The Belgian authorities say the alleged criminals often do not settle in Belgium. They come to country to commit crimes such as armed hold ups then return to their home states as soon as possible.

Last weekend saw five separate armed hold-ups in Belgium.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news