Last Belgium jailbreak prisoner tracked down

8th August 2009, Comments 1 comment

One of Belgium's most dangerous criminals, who staged an audacious jailbreak on a hijacked helicopter, has been tracked down to the Berkane region of eastern Morocco

Rabat - One of Belgium's most dangerous criminals, who staged an audacious jailbreak on a hijacked helicopter, has been tracked down to the Berkane region of eastern Morocco, a security source told AFP on Friday.

Ashraf Sekkaki, 25, managed to escape again by abandoning a car when police captured his counterpart Mohammed Johry near Berkane.

Berkane is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the north African kingdom's border with Algeria.

The third of the three men, Abdelhaq Melloul Khayari, was arrested in the Belgian capital Brussels after the jailbreak.

All three, who hold Moroccan nationality according to their Interpol files, flew out of a prison in Bruges in northern Belgium on 23 July in a helicopter hijacked by their accomplices.

Moroccan police said that Sekkaki and Johry entered Morocco on August 4 via Nador port, before heading to Berkane where they spent 24 hours in a hotel.

"Ashraf Sekkaki crossed the border from Spain on a vehicle using the false identity of Alain Belaser," a security source told AFP. Sekkaki is "still on the run in very rough country," the source added.

The trio were serving jail terms of between seven and 30 years in Belgium.

Sekkaki has already escaped once from prison -- in September 2003 -- and managed to avoid capture for five months.

Interpol had issued a so-called "Orange Notice" to its 187 member states in a bid to recapture the fugitives.

On the Belgian side, the Bruges prosecutor's office said that Johry would not be extradited as had originally been envisaged.

The Belgian and Moroccan authorities have agreed that he will be tried in Morocco for their prison escape, involvement in the helicopter hijack and the robberies committed subsequently in Belgium.

Sekkaki can expect the same treatment, the Bruges source said.

According to the Flemish regional daily Het Laatste Nieuws, investigators fear for the life of Lesley Deckers, the 23-year-old Belgian convert to Islam who helped the three men escape in the helicopter.

Deckers, wanted for complicity in the crimes, was last seen at an Amsterdam hotel where she holed out with the fugitives for a week in late July.

"There has been no trace of Lesley Deckers. We were surprised that she was not arrested at Johry's side on Thursday," a source close to the investigation said.

"She was the weak link in this whole thing. We hope that the gangsters haven't decided to eliminate her. We fear for her life," the source added.

Belgium has suffered a string of spectacular, and embarrassing, escapes recently.

On Tuesday masked gunmen helped three detainees to flee their five police guards inside the Brussels Law Courts.

Just days after the helicopter breakout, two prisoners in the northern city of Merkplas broke free from jail simply by jumping over the wall with a ladder borrowed from a building site inside the prison.

AFP / Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

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