Wanted Dutch-Moroccan held in extradition row: report

2017-06-29 21:50
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The Hague - A Dutch-Moroccan national at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries was arrested on Thursday as Rabat pushes for his extradition, Dutch media reported.

Morocco said late on Saturday it had been in talks with Dutch officials in the past two days urging them to extradite "a notorious drug trafficker" who allegedly funds "some groups in northern Morocco".

It had demanded "concrete and urgent measures," and decided to immediately recall its ambassador for consultations, stressing the envoy's return would depend on how the case developed.

But the Dutch foreign and justice ministries voiced bafflement about the situation.

"The Netherlands is committed now and in the future to an effective collaboration with Morocco based on international legal frameworks and the protection of the rule of law," they said in a joint statement released Sunday.

"In that light, the Moroccan statement is incomprehensible and unnecessary."

Although the man has not been officially named, Moroccan sources and media in The Netherlands have identified him as Said Chaou.

Chaou backs independence for Morocco's Rif region, hit by weeks of protests, and has reportedly posted messages online in support of demonstrators demanding an end to corruption and for jobs in the mainly Berber area.

Moroccan officials said two international arrest warrants had been issued against him, including one in 2010.

According to a second 2015 warrant, Chaou was living in The Netherlands and was accused of corruption and drug trafficking. Moroccan authorities allege he trafficked several tonnes of cannabis into Europe.

The Dutch news agency ANP said on Thursday that according to the Dutch justice ministry Morocco has given the Dutch guarantees that he will only be tried on allegations of drug-trafficking and not for any political activities.

A Moroccan diplomatic source confirmed to AFP that he had been arrested in The Netherlands "with the view of extraditing him to Morocco."

"This is an action against impunity. This individual has been able to play off against two justice systems, but from now on he must pay for his deeds," the source said, asking not to named.

ANP said the man's case would now have to go before a court to see if judges agreed to extradite him.

Chaou has reportedly lived in The Netherlands for most of the past 22 years.

Earlier this week, prosecution officials confirmed they had arrested a man in 2015 in the southern Dutch town of Roosendaal as part of a crackdown on a drug network. But his current whereabouts were reportedly unknown.

Read more on:    morocco  |  netherlands  |  north africa

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