NAt a press conference, the minister explained that he had learned today that Tunisia had requested the extradition of the perpetrator of the attack, Abdesalem Lassoued, in August 2022, a request that was not handled by the Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“The competent magistrate did not act on this extradition request and the case was not dealt with,” Van Quickenborne stressed.
“This is an individual and monumental error, an unacceptable error with dramatic consequences,” he added, stating that he will take “responsibility through dismissal.”
“I’m not looking for excuses. I feel it’s my duty to do so. This new information, coming from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, touches me deeply, because I did everything in my power to improve our justice system,” he added .
Monday night’s attack, which occurred near the center of Brussels just before a football match between Belgium and Sweden, targeted Swedish fans.
The attacker, a radicalized man whose asylum request had been rejected and who had been the subject of an order to leave Belgium, which was never complied with, killed two of the supporters in cold blood, with an AR-15 automatic rifle. He also injured a third, before fleeing on a scooter.
The 45-year-old Tunisian was found on Tuesday morning in a cafe in the municipality of Schaerbeek, in Brussels, where he was fatally shot by police. His gun was found.
Abdesalem Lassoued was known to Belgian authorities for a series of crimes, including death threats against an asylum seeker, according to the courts, but was not included in the database of the Belgian terrorist threat analysis agency (Ocam).
After the attack, Vincent Van Quickenborne limited himself to indicating that Belgium had been informed in 2016 “by a foreign police service” of Lassoued’s radicalized profile, without any reference to a terrorist background.
Before requesting asylum in Belgium, where he said he arrived at the end of 2015, the Tunisian had made similar requests in Norway, Sweden and then Italy, requests that were rejected on each occasion.
Read Also: Author of attack in Brussels was arrested in Portugal by SEF in 2015
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