Parliamentarian Denis Ducarme (Mouvement Réformateur) refuses to take part in a vote in Parliament on the prisoner transfer treaty with Iran, the legislator told Belga News Agency.
Queried earlier in the day following remarks he made to SudInfo, he explained that such a vote would be contrary to his conscience. He could not accept a treaty which he said, was tailor-made to allow the exchange of an Iranian diplomat, Assadolah Assadi, sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for a planned attack in France, for a Belgian humanitarian worker, Olivier Vandecasteele.
Vandecasteele was arrested in Tehran in February – without cause, according to the Belgian authorities – and imprisoned in degrading conditions.
“I have been involved in terrorism cases for a long time. Here, in terms of principles, we do not respect the separation of powers, and in particular the authority of res judicata,” he said.
“There is no guarantee that the sentence will be carried out in Iran,” he added. “On the contrary, we know that the person will be pardoned in Iran despite having been convicted of a terrorist crime. Some countries have already carried out prisoner exchanges with Iran, but here we are talking about a terrorist”, he explained.
The rest of the MR is likely to approve the text, even if, behind the scenes, some legislators say they are very uncomfortable. The group agrees, in particular, with the recommendations of State Security, which supports the adoption of the treaty.
Representatives of the intelligence service met behind closed doors on 4 July with the political groups represented in the House to brief them on the security issues at stake in the text.
Belgium has been under strong pressure from the regime in Tehran since 2018, and Mr. Assadi’s arrest. The vote on the treaty will “lower the tension”, many observers feel.