It’s been a week since the Brussels shootings but people became more anxious, especially Swedish for their safety. According to the authorities, the gunman who shot two Swedish football fans dead last Monday (October 16) was a fugitive from a Tunisian prison.
A Disregarded Fugitive from Tunisian Prison
Belgian authorities arrested Tunisian national Abdesalem Lassoued on Tuesday after a witness testified his location but escaped from prison. The assassin was already imprisoned in 2005 and must spend 26 years in jail. He was charged with several crimes, including attempted murder.
In 2011, Lassoued escaped prison and boarded a small vessel headed for Italy’s Lampedusa. He moved to Belgium and applied for asylum, but was declined. That was when he began unnoticed.
Tunisian authorities requested Belgium to extradite Lassoued in August 2022. Although the Belgian authorities received the request, they failed to process it.
Brussels public prosecutor Tim De Wolf said his office was understaffed then. That was why they weren’t able to process the extradition case. He added they received the extradition file in September 2022 and could have forgotten it in the file cabinet.
Moreover, de Wolf said that none of the involved colleagues recall what happened to this particular file a year ago. He didn’t disclose why the Tunisian fugitive went to jail. However, according to the Belgian media, Lassoued was imprisoned due to two attempted murders.
There was also a report that Lassoued served two years in jail in Sweden for drug trafficking. Based on a Swedish media report, authorities arrested him in Malmo, Sweden for carrying 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cocaine.
On October 16, 45-year-old Lassoued started shooting passersby with his assault rifle. He killed two Swedish football fans while injuring another. The Islamic State Group member claimed accountability for the attack, saying he was fighting for God. Police shot him in the chest, killing him instantly.
Belgium Justice Minister Resigns After the Incident
Following the shooting incident and inadequacies, Belgium’s Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne stepped down from his position. He resigned due to substantial and terrible mistakes with infuriated consequences.
“I sincerely want to apologise to the victims and their loved ones. I am not looking for any excuses,” said Mr Van Quickenborne during his resignation speech.
Alleged Accomplices of Tunisian Fugitive Arrested
French authorities detained two alleged accomplices of Lassoued who were presented to a judge on Monday. The suspects live in the Paris region and were among four people arrested last week. It’s part of an investigation into probable connection with the Tunisian fugitive. The police released the other two suspects with no charges.
Prosecutors said they started a formal investigation into a suspected “criminal terrorist conspiracy” after acquiring information from the Belgian authority regarding the case.
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