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Fugitive Belgian arms dealer arrested in Portugal

Police handout via Belga

Jacques Monsieur, a notorious arms trafficker sentenced last year to four years in prison by a court in Belgium but since then a fugitive, has been arrested in a small village in Portugal, the federal police confirmed, after a report by VTM News.

Monsieur has a long history of dubious and downright illegal arms trades, and is known to law enforcement authorities the world over. In June 2017 he was sentenced to three years and fined 300,000 euros for having delivered automatic weapons, ammunition, tanks helicopters planes and other military equipment to countries at war, including Libya, Chad, Pakistan and Iran, in breach of international sanctions.

His history, according to VTM, dates back to the 1980s, when he supplied arms to Iran in the long war with Iraq. Since then he has had convictions in the United States, in connection with the notorious Iran-Contra affair, and in France. According to VTM, there has not been an armed conflict in the last 35 years in which he was not involved as a trafficker of weapons.

He appealed the conviction, and the Court of Appeal in Brussels last year responded by increasing his sentence to four years, and bumping his fine up to 1.2 million euros.

He took flight, and proved untraceable for a time. He is known to own a farm in Tarascon in France, where he owns a number of horses. The place was searched and placed under surveillance, but there was no sign of Monsieur.

Then last month, nine of his horses were transported to Portugal, and the trace was followed by the Fugitive Action Search Team (FAST) of the federal police, who finally tracked Monsieur down to a discreet property with stables.

He will appear before a court in Portugal today, where Belgium will request his extradition to allow him to serve his sentence.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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