Share article:
Share article:

Extradition sought in 29-year-old political murder case

Cosimo Solazzo, right, photographed in 2004 shortly before absconding. © Belga

The Liege prosecutor-general has sent a request to Italy for the extradition of a man sentenced for the murder of a leading Belgian politician in 1991.

Cosimo Solazzo, now aged 72, was sentenced in 2004 to 20 years in prison for his part in the murder in Liege in 1991 of André Cools, a leading figure in the French-speaking socialist party PS.

Cools was shot twice as he left the apartment of his partner, and died at the scene. The woman he was with was injured. The gunmen, two hired guns from Tunisia, had been delivered with the help of the Italian mafia. They were tracked down and extradited, and sentenced to 20 years, which they served in a Tunisian prison.

The threads of the plot against Cools led back to the office of Alain Van der Biest, a socialist minister, and his private secretary Richard Taxquet and chauffeur Pino di Mauro. They had organised the hit on Cools, calling on Solazzo and another foot-soldier, Domenico Castellino, to take care of details such as providing the firearms and transporting the assassins from the airport and back to Tunis, as well as arranging accommodation for them before the assassination.

The exact reason for the killing of Cools has never come to light, although numerous theories have circulated. Van der Biest, an alcoholic who may or may not have known about the plot, committed suicide in 2002. He was never indicted in connection with the death of Cools.

Solazzo was sentenced in his absence to 20 years. Belgium issued a European Arrest Warrant to have him delivered here. But when Solazzo was arrested in April, in Veglie near Lecce in the heel of the Italian boot, the extradition request was contested. Solazzo was placed under house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet.

The Italian authorities asked us for information about the prison conditions in Belgium regarding the health of Mr Solazzo,” a spokesperson for the Liege prosecutor-general told L’Avenir. “We have provided all the requested information and are now awaiting an answer from the Italian court to our request for extradition.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

EU decides to activate emergency brake against new COVID-variant but stops short of flight ban
The new COVID variant detected in South Africa has put the EU on alert and prompted the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) to ...
Belgium imposes entry ban on travellers from southern Africa
Belgium is introducing an entry ban for travellers from several countries in the south of Africa following concerns about a new variant (B.1.1.529) ...
Cheat Sheet: New Rules, Quiet December Nights
It's been a while since we've had measures complicated enough to deserve a cheat sheet, but less than a week after Belgium rolled out new measures, ...
Belgium records highest number of new cases since start of pandemic
An average of 16,762 infections per day is now recorded in Belgium, with an absolute record of more than 25,000 infections in one day last Monday, ...
Brexit: trade and travel disrupted as French fishermen blockade ports and Eurotunnel
On Friday, the national committee for the French fishing industry has coordinated a blockade of three French ports as well as lorries bearing freight ...
Belgium implements ‘package of strict measures’
Not even a week after the previous measures came into force, Belgium is taking stricter measures to stop the fourth wave in the country, announced ...
Even with strong action now, ‘we will still have a few weeks of misery,’ says Vlieghe
Even if the Consultative Committee takes powerful and clear decisions today, Belgium will still have to endure a few weeks of misery while the number ...
Brussels tunnels blocked by Uber driver protest
Several tunnels in the centre of Brussels were blocked on Friday morning by Uber drivers protesting against a ruling by the Brussels Court of Appeal ...
Police strikes at Brussels and Charleroi airports cause delays
Police unions are taking action at Brussels and Charleroi airports this Friday morning, causing delayed services at both locations. At 7:00 AM at ...
Black Friday not your bag? Try Green Friday
Today is Black Friday: a North American custom that has made its way across the Atlantic and is when retailers aim to draw consumers in with low ...
Study links social media use with depression in adults
While social media has been linked to anxiety and depression in teens, a new study now suggests that adults are also susceptible. In Belgium, a ...
Nearly half a million of lives saved by COVID-19 vaccination in Europe, new study shows
A new study published on Thursday estimates that at least 470,000 lives have been saved among those aged 60 years and over since the start of ...