Expatica news

Minister denies careless talk over terror inquiries

4 November 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has denied he hindered terrorist investigations by disclosing that several suspects were under surveillance.
The minister’s spokesman was reacting to an article which first appeared on Thursday in Flemish daily newspaper ‘De Tijd’, in which Dewael was accused of carelessness.

In answer to a question in a parliamentary commission from Flemish Interest MP Francis van den Eynde on 17 March last year, Dewael reportedly revealed that several terrorist suspects were being shadowed.

According to a source from the Belgian judiciary, investigations into the suspects — alleged members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) — were put in jeopardy.

Consequently, some 20 house raids were carried out on 19 March after the surveillance operation was hastily ended a month too early.

Dewael’s spokesman Jo de Ro said the minister had only revealed that the suspect Khalid Bouloudou — who had been arrested almost two months earlier in the Netherlands — had been under surveillance prior to his arrest.

“He did not speak about the GICM or other GICM members,” De Ro said.

Dewael’s office also denied the federal public prosecution department had requested the minister not to disclose the operation, as stated in Thursday’s article.

Meanwhile, a procedural hearing against 13 suspected GICM terrorists — some of whom were arrested in the March raids last year —was held in a Francophone Brussels Court on Thursday.

In that hearing, a request for one of the defence lawyers to be allowed to speak Dutch was denied because official procedures were not followed. The Dutch-speaking suspects will now be provided with interpreters.

The hearing was adjourned until 16 November and is scheduled to continue until at least 13 December.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news