Opposition politicians have criticised federal migration minister Theo Francken for deporting an Albanian gangster who later showed up on the government’s own Most Wanted list. Safet Rustemi was active in drug and prostitution networks in the Brussels Alhambra quarter, between the Rue Neuve and Rue de Laeken, and had been facing a prison sentence of 22 years in all. According to his listing on the Most Wanted list, he was involved in “extremely violent” activity in human trafficking, attempted murder, destruction of property, use of firearms and extortion.
But instead of serving any prison term, Rustemi was instead put on a plane by the Office for Foreigners and deported to his native Albania in June last year. “In fact it was the Office for Foreigners who ensured he could not, and would not, serve his sentence,” his lawyer Sven Mary, told De Morgen.
Rustemi has been included on the Most Wanted list because he continues to run his affairs in Brussels from Albania. Francken defended the Office for Foreigners: “Albania is not the end of the world,” he posted on Twitter. The inclusion on the list was a signal to the Albanian authorities to arrest the man. “We have an extradition treaty with Albania.”
Meanwhile federal parliamentarian Wouter De Vriendt accused Francken of an “obsession” with deporting people, even when it allowed them to escape justice.
“This kind of deportation brings enormous security risks,” he said. “This sort of criminal is able to endanger us even from abroad. The obsession of the secretary of state with getting rid of criminals as quickly as possible is a threat to our safety.”
Francken, meanwhile, has promised to investigate the case more closely.