Belgium: Imam lquioussen continues to refuse extradition to France

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Morocco’s Imam Hassan Iquioussens confirmed on Thursday that he refused to extradite him to France at a new hearing in Belgium over the enforcement of a European arrest warrant (MAE) issued against him, the people said. Belgian lawyer Nicholas Cohen said.

A prosecution hearing in the Mons (Southern) Court of Appeal is due to make a decision on Tuesday.

The 58-year-old imam, who was arrested in Belgium six weeks ago and is now under electronic surveillance and under house arrest, was opposed to Belgian prosecutors supporting his surrender to French courts. He argues that the Foreign Ministry’s terms were not adequate.

His lawyer claims that the crimes prosecuted in France “which are deducted from the execution of the dismissal order”, do not exist in Belgian law, and that is said to be the case”,  explained Mr cohen.

Furthermore, the European arrest warrant applies “only if a sentence of imprisonment is imposed,” the lawyer added. European law prohibits imprisonment for actions related to illegal stays or refusals to deport, he continued, citing case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Hassan Iquioussen, who was arrested on Sept. 30 in the Mons region of French-speaking Belgium, has been at the centre of political and legal turmoil in France this summer.

At the end of July, Gérald the France Minister of the Interior of Darmanin announced that the preacher, who had been designated  (for national security) by his service as a secret, would be expelled from the north.

The decree denounces him as “a proselytizing discourse mixed with incitement to hatred and discrimination, and a bearer of a vision of Islam that contradicts the values ​​of the Republic.”

But Hassan Iquioussen was nowhere to be found when the arrest he challenged in court was finally upheld by the State Council on August 31.

According to his French lawyer, Me Lucie Simon, his client “left France for the Walloon region in strict respect of French law”.

In October, when reviewing the arrest warrant at first instance, the Tournai (West) court council refused to extradite him to France. The Court of Appeal decision has now been appealed to the Belgian Court of Cassation.

Nour el Houda Bouzammour

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