N-VA councillor suspected of people-trafficking arrested

N-VA councillor Melikan Kucam has been detained.  He stands accused of providing humanitarian visas in return for cash.  He's charged with people-trafficking, bribery, blackmail and criminal acts.

Melikan Kucam was led away for questioning by officials from the Antwerp prosecutor's office last Tuesday.  He's suspected of accepting payment from Christians from Iraq and Syria in return for providing humanitarian visas to travel to Belgium.  Mr Kucam advised the former asylum secretary Theo Francken (N-VA).

While the legal formalities involve a small fee sums of up to 10,000 euros per visa have been mentioned in the media.  Mr Kucam's lawyer says that his client vehemently denies accepting any monies for putting anybody on any list.

Meanwhile it has emerged that as early as 11 October the European Syriac Union, an organisation of eastern Christians in Europe, warned about criminal activities with regard to the bringing of Syrian Christians to Belgium. The letter was sent to several people in authority. Six Belgians involved in the operation are said to have received payments worth up to 14,000 euros.  There is also mention of the involvement of a Belgian MP.

The Belgian immigration department has meanwhile also confirmed that not every application for a humanitarian visa is thoroughly checked.