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Morocco-Netherlands Deal Paves Way for Extradition of Ex-Lawmaker | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Protesters in Moroccan city of Al-Hoceima. AFP photo

Rabat, Casablanca- Dutch authorities have arrested former Moroccan regional lawmaker Said Chaaou over an international arrest warrant issued by the judiciary in Morocco in 2010 following accusations that he had formed an armed gang and had been involved in international drug trafficking and attempted murder.

The Moroccan foreign ministry said that it would now seek the extradition of Chaaou, who holds the Dutch nationality, from the Netherlands.

“Today’s (Thursday’s) arrest of Said Chaaou, by Dutch authorities, constitutes an important development in the treatment of this affair tied with organized crime,” it said.

Chaaou is also the subject of another arrest warrant linked to tampering with the country’s stability by establishing a movement calling for the Rif region’s independence from Morocco. He is also accused of providing “financial and logistical support” in the protests that the region witnessed in the past months.

His arrest came following intense talks held lately between Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and the Dutch ambassador to Rabat. The meetings culminated in a deal reached at dawn Thursday to extradite Chaaou in order to appear in court.

But if convicted, the former lawmaker would serve his sentence in the Netherlands because he is a Dutch national.

Chaaou, 50, was born in Morocco but moved to the Netherlands in the 1980s.

In a related development, the government convened on Thursday in Rabat under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani to discuss the situation in the Rif region in general.

Othmani urged cabinet ministers to exert efforts in implementing development projects in the region and improve coordination and information-sharing to speed up their implementation in line with the instructions made by Mohammed VI of Morocco.

The prime minister had expressed regret at the events taking place in the city of Al-Hoceima, urging residents for calm and an end to protests by promising them a “solution to all problems.”

During a press conference he held late Wednesday, Othmani said he had given instructions to the interior minister to respect the law while dealing with demonstrators.

Nobody wants to inflict any harm to citizens, he added.