Wednesday

22nd Feb 2017

Paris attacker tops EU ‘most wanted’ list

  • Soldiers still patrol the streets of Brussels, EU capital, months after the Paris murders (Photo: Miguel Discart)

The face of Salah Abdeslam, the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, topped a new EU “most wanted” list, published on Friday (29 January).

The list, put out by Europol, the EU’s joint police body in The Hague, also featured Mohamed Abrini, his driver, describing him as “very dangerous and armed … Anyone who sees this man, is asked not to take any initiative but immediately inform the police.”

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The site features 45 fugitives from the 17 member states taking part.

Most of them are wanted for murder, armed robbery, rape, or for being part of organised crime syndicates.

Zakaira Benaissa, the third most wanted on the list, for instance, is a Belgian serial killer. He’s on the run for three years for the so-called Manga murders, by reference to notes he left with victims citing Japanese cartoons.

The list is a call for the general public to send information.

Tens of thousands of people clicked on it on Friday. But the heavy traffic caused it to crash shortly after breakfast time and it was unavailable for most of the day.

If someone sees Abdeslam and files an online alert, it’s pinged to their home country’s Fast unit, or Fugitive Active Search Teams unit, which is meant to share it with other Fast units in EU capitals.

Europol itself just hosts the website.

The 17 EU participating states name the “most wanted” targets and follow up bilaterally or multilaterally.

Tine Hollevoet, a Europol spokeswoman, told EUobserver The Hague only knows something has happened if “someone is arrested and taken down from the site”.

She said the list is supposed to fill information gaps in EU public awareness.

“All of them [the EU’s most wanted] have already appeared in the media on a national level, but not on an international level. For example, an Italian target could be hiding in Sweden or elsewhere. Criminals have no boundaries, so we believe that if we all look for them together, we’ll have a bigger chance of arresting them.”

Not referring directly to Abdeslam, she added: “For all the targets that are on the list, there is … a strong reason to suspect that these suspects are somewhere hiding in another EU country.”

Interpol

The initiative mirrors Interpol’s wanted persons list.

But Interpol member states aren’t obliged to extradite suspects to each other, even if Interpol, which is based in Lyon, France, issues a 'red notice'.

The EU targets are subject to a European arrest warrant, which obliges all 28 member states to hand over fugitives.

Interpol has come under fire for listing the wrong people, because some 'rogue' member states abuse it to hunt political opponents.

The EU doesn’t have that problem. But not all its judiciaries are equal either.

Yoga guru

One of the men on the EU list on Friday morning was Gregorian Bivolaru.

The Romanian yoga guru was sentenced in his native country on charges including rape and tax fraud. But Sweden gave him asylum on grounds he couldn’t get a fair tiail and risked religious persecution.

Sweden made him a refugee in 2006. Romania joined the EU in 2007 and sentenced him, in absentia, in 2013.

The EU project poses the question of what a Swedish Fast unit would do if an alert on Bivolaru, now 63, comes in.

Sweden grants asylum to citizen from EU candidate Romania

Sweden has granted political asylum to a controversial yoga teacher from EU candidate state Romania, with the Romanian leader referring to the case as an example of shortcomings in the country's legal system less than a year before accession is scheduled.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Opinion

EU must tackle Poland's bad behaviour

Developments in Washington only serve to highlight the need for positive action in the face of an overtly nationalistic and anti-rights form of populism.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  2. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  3. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  4. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  6. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  9. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  10. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  12. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship