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Bulgaria approves transfer of terrorism convict to Belgium

Published on November 22, 2021

A Bulgarian court on Monday authorised the transfer of a man convicted of terrorism to Belgium, where he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison in 2015.

Yassine Lachiri was arrested in Bulgaria on November 10 after entering the country illegally from Turkey.

Lachiri, of Moroccan descent, reportedly has links to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the 2015 Paris attack planners.

Brussels had issued a European arrest warrant for Lachiri after his 2015 conviction, which was part of a larger trial of those involved in a jihadist recruitment network in Belgium.

Belgian press reports say that Lachiri was stripped of his Belgian nationality in absentia in 2020.

He also has a sentence of nine years and five months for terrorism in Turkey.

Lachiri voluntarily agreed to the transfer to Belgium from Bulgaria, and the Yambol regional court authorised the surrender procedure on Monday.

“The court ruled that the European arrest warrant can be executed and authorised the transfer of the requested person to the requesting state,” Yambol Appeals Prosecution spokesman Milan Bozhidarov told AFP after the hearing Monday.

The court did not specify when the transfer will take place, but the spokesman said Lachiri’s voluntary surrender could speed the process up.