Belgian minister resigns over killing of Swedish football fans

A request by Tunisia to extradite the suspect from Belgium in 2022 was neglected

Belgian's Justice Minister Vincent van Quickenborne. AFP
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The suspected terrorist killing in Belgium of two Swedish football fans led to the resignation on Friday of Justice Minster Vincent van Quickenborne.

Abdesalem Al Guilani, a Tunisian who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, has admitted to killing two people in Brussels on Monday during a Belgium-Sweden football match.

Mr van Quickenborne said an investigation revealed that a request by Tunisia to extradite Mr Al Guilani, 45, from Belgium in August 2022 had been neglected by Belgian justice authorities.

“This is an inexcusable error which has had dramatic effects,” Mr Van Quickenborne said as he announced his resignation. “I want to take full political responsibility for this.”

In a video on social media, the gunman called himself Abdesalem Al Guilani and claimed responsibility for the attack.

He had unsuccessfully sought asylum in Belgium in 2019 and was living in Belgium illegally.

He was known to Belgian police in connection with helping smuggle people into Britain, Mr Van Quickenborne said last week.

The gunman went after Swedes who were in Brussels to watch Belgium play Sweden in Monday's European championship qualifying match. The game was abandoned because of the shooting.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called the shooting a “brutal terrorist attack”.

It came at a time of heightened security concerns because of the war between Israel and Hamas, but Belgian prosecutors said the gunman appeared motivated more by Quran burnings in Sweden.

In August, Sweden raised its terrorism alert to the second-highest level after Quran burnings outraged Muslims and triggered threats.

Updated: October 21, 2023, 4:31 AM