Theo Francken will not have to explain controversial remarks about deporting criminals in Parliament
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    Theo Francken will not have to explain controversial remarks about deporting criminals in Parliament

    The Domestic Affairs' Parliamentary Committee will not hold a hearing with Theo Francken, the former State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, regarding his statements. Credit: Belga

    The Domestic Affairs’ Parliamentary Committee will not hold a hearing with Theo Francken, the former State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, regarding his statements concerning “time-barred acts”.

    Francken gave a lecture on 21 November 2019 in the municipality of Beveren, because of the opening of an asylum centre in there. A journalist of the Flemish newspaper De Morgen was among the attendants, and afterwards wrote that Francken had said that he had been “creative” in returning “illegal criminals back to their own countries.”

    He also said that he was not going to say what he did, because it would get him in trouble. “But someday, I will write a book about it, when the acts have been time-barred,” he reportedly said.

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    “We want to know what these acts are exactly,” said MP Wouter De Vriendt, reports Het Nieuwsblad. De Vriendt has questioned Maggie De Block, who is Francken’s successor as Secretary of State, as well as the director-general of the Immigration Office, who assured him that no illegal practices had taken place.

    De Vriendt had asked for such a hearing, but was voted down on Wednesday. He was supported by the socialist PS party, and the extreme-left PVDA party. The other parties voted against a hearing. “This is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” said Koen Metsu, from the rightwing N-VA party, reports Le Soir.

    “This is a little bit strange. It does not seem to be the task of a regular committee to investigate possible offences, but that of a committee of inquiry or of the court,” said Commission Chairman Ortwin Depoortere, from the extreme-right Vlaams Belang party.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times