Turkish passports help criminals escape justice in Belgium
Belgium has asked for Turkey to extradite two drug criminals, without success. The two appear to have received Turkish citizenship in exchange for investments in the country, write Het Nieuwsblad, De Standaard, Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg on Tuesday.
Bosnian Sani AM and his Albanian right-hand man Flamur S are wanted by the Bruges investigating judge for their involvement in one of the biggest drug cases in Belgium's history. In the Kriva Rochem case, named after a company in the port of Antwerp, at least 3.2 tonnes of cocaine were allegedly imported by a criminal gang led by Belgian Flor Bressers, who has been in prison since last year.
"We are counting on the new Turkish government to ensure that Turkey does not become a haven for serious criminals on the run"
But his accomplices are in hiding in Turkey, and will stay there for the foreseeable future: Turkey informed Belgium at the beginning of this month that AM and S had acquired Turkish nationality and therefore cannot be extradited.
Police and courts have long been concerned that major drug criminals are taking advantage of the Turkish government's policy of granting passports in exchange for investments. Since January 2022, foreigners who invest 500,000 dollars or buy property in the country can be granted citizenship.
Alternative to Dubai
Criminals are looking at countries like Turkey in the event that Dubai, a well-known haven for people fleeing the justice system, decides they are not welcome anymore.
Belgium's Justice minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne, is aware of the problem. "We are counting on the new Turkish government to ensure that Turkey does not become a haven for serious criminals on the run."
© BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT