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Belgium told to pay €5,000 to asylum seeker

11:46 12/04/2013

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Belgium to pay €5,000 to an Afghan asylum seeker who had been imprisoned for four months due to appeal proceedings by the Court of Cassation even though his lawyer had obtained his release after just four days, De Morgen reports today. "This judgement is a slap in the face for Belgium," said the Brussels lawyer Zouhaier Chihaoui. The Court of Cassation, Belgium’s main court of last resort, can overturn a previous court ruling, but only on grounds of procedure, not of evidence. In its judgment, the European Court of Human Rights referred to a violation of the right to freedom. "Practically speaking, Strasbourg said that our country had violated Article 5, paragraph 4, which states that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be brought before a judge who must decide within a reasonable period of time on the lawfulness of the arrest," recalls the lawyer. "My client was not given this right." The now 29-year-old asylum seeker, Firoz Ahmad, is an Afghan who had been ordered to leave the country when he applied for asylum in Belgium. The man had refused his deportation to Athens and was arrested in early 2010. Four days later, his lawyer had obtained his release. "But the Immigration Office lodged an appeal. My client consequently remained in custody pending the decision of the Court of Cassation," said Chihaoui, for whom the extremely complex cassation procedure is "a disgrace to our rule of law." Firoz Ahmad has meanwhile obtained refugee status.

Written by The Bulletin