Former nationalist councillor and 9 other suspects on trial for fraud involving humanitarian visas

The trial of the former Mechelen (Antwerp province) city councillor Melikan Kucam (Flemish nationalist) and nine other suspects got under way at the criminal court in Antwerp on Monday morning. They are standing trial on charges of human trafficking, passive corruption and being part of a criminal organisation that organised fraud involving humanitarian visas. Mr Kucam is accused of having abused his position as an intermediary for the office of the former Federal Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist). Mr Francken had no knowledge of the alleged criminal malpractice. Melikan Kucam (photo above) is accused of having made hundreds of thousands of euro from the alleged visa fraud.


The Public Prosecutors’ Office says that it brought to light irregularities concerning the awarding of humanitarian visas to Christians that were fleeing the war in Syria. The visa enabled them to come to Belgium legally and asked for asylum here. The then Mechlen city councillor Melikan Kucam worked with the office of the then Secretary of State Theo Francken to draw up lists of people that might be considered for a humanitarian visa.

The Public Prosecutors’ Office says that 219 people paid for a humanitarian visa to come to Belgium. 96 of them didn’t remain here, which is contrary to the conditions of the visa. Mr Kucam has already spent 9 months in prison on remand, spending the rest of his remand period at home with an electronic tag.

In March of this year Mr Kucam was given conditional bail at the same time that his case and those of the other accused (that include his wife and his son) to the criminal court.

The 10 suspects risk up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to 150,000 per victim if they are found guilty. Melikan Kucan has always denied any wrongdoing. A verdict in the case is expected in around a month.

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