Brussels shooting: Justice minister resigns after 'error with dramatic consequences'
Belgium's federal minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne, announced his resignation at a hastily called press conference on Friday evening. Four days after two people were killed in a terrorist attack in Brussels, Van Quickenborne said he wanted to take political responsibility for "an error with dramatic consequences".
It has emerged that last year that Tunisia had requested the extradition of Abdesalem Lassoued, the man who shot dead two Swedish nationals in Brussels on Monday night. That extradition request was not acted on by the magistrate in charge. Van Quickenborne said on Friday evening that he was taking political responsibility for this "unacceptable mistake".
Tunisia requested the extradition on 15 August 2022. The request was sent to the Brussels public prosecutor's office on 1 September, but the magistrate responsible did not act on it. "This was an error with dramatic consequences," said Van Quickenborne.
'Not looking for excuses'
"As a minister, I cannot and must not interfere in the decision of a magistrate. Although this is the work of a single independent magistrate, I want to take political responsibility. I am not looking for excuses. This new information from the public prosecutor's office hits me in the heart, because I have done my best to improve justice."
"This new information from the public prosecutor's office hits me in the heart, because I have done my best to improve justice"
Brussels public prosecutor Johan Delmulle said that 31 similar requests had been made to his office last year. "This is the only one of those 31 that has not been followed up on," he said. "I can only conclude that the cause is an unfortunate confluence of circumstances in which the file was put on hold and lost sight of."
Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne announces his resignation © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT