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United Arab Emirates refuse to extradite Antwerp drug criminal . #SkyECC #Encrochat Encrypted Phones
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El Hajjioui has been wanted by Antwerp judicial authorities for years and is considered one of the main players in the city’s cocaine trade, in addition to being linked to a series of arson attacks and shootings.
Nordin El Hajjioui is one of the top targets of the justice department, De Standaard reports, charged with international drug smuggling and directing a criminal organisation that carried out attacks in the drug world.In 2020, the Antwerp Public Prosecutor’s Office sent three requests to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to extradite El Hajjioui, who resides in Dubai. El Hajjioui was arrested in Belgium in June 2020 but was quickly released after paying bail, whereupon he fled to UAE.
El Hajjioui started legal proceedings against the extradition to Belgium and a court in Dubai sided with him, rejecting all three requests.
“We are going to have to look at the judgment,” said the cabinet of Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD).
Van Quickenborne signed an extradition treaty with the UAE in December, but the requests date from before that.
The public prosecutor in Antwerp also says it will also study the judgments of the three rejected requests, “then we will see what initiatives we can take,” according to spokesperson Kristof Aerts.
Lawyer Louis De Groote, who represents the interests of Nordin El Hajjioui in Belgium, did not want to comment on Thursday.
A number of trials against El Hajjioui and his criminal organisation are planned for the correctional court in Antwerp. In these trials, he can be defended by his lawyer or not appear at all.
Belgium has several other extradition requests pending for drug criminals and suspects who may be hiding in Dubai and for whom an Interpol Red Notice has been issued.