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    Belgium not able to deport convicted Syrian fighter

    © Belga
    Theo Francken is outraged that Bilal S. cannot be sent back to Morocco for now.
    © Belga

    A number of Flemish media outlets are reporting on Friday that a judge has prevented a convicted Syrian fighter from being deported to Morocco. The reason: the man risks being tortured there. The Secretary of State for Immigration and Ayslum, Theo Francken, displayed his outrage about the circumstances in a short film, currently posted on Facebook.

    Bilal S., also known as Abou Safiya, was a member of the cell run by Khalid Zerkani, who according to the Public Prosecutor was the largest jihadist recruiter in Belgium. Bilal S. had appeared, together with Zerkani and 29 other suspects, in Brussels during 2015 and received a five-year prison sentence. He had travelled to Syria during September 2015.

    The man was released in June 2017. As he had Moroccan nationality, the Immigration Office wished to withdraw his residence permit and send him to Morocco. The organisation based its view upon the conviction of Bilal S., and the opinion of OCAM (the Organ for the Coordination of Threat Analysis), which considered him dangerous.

    However Belgium is not in a position to send him back to Morocco for the present time. The Council for Immigration Law Litigation has suspended the original decision by the Immigration Office, as a matter of extreme urgency, since the Immigration Office has not taken any steps to obtain any guarantees that Bilal S. will not suffer inhuman treatment upon returning to Morocco. The Council considers that this violates Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times