Thursday

19th Jul 2018

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.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

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.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

EU leaders still in search of migration plan

Select EU leaders met amid rising tension over migration, with Italy's PM, who had threatened to boycott the summit, putting forward a new plans to stop boats from leaving Libya.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  2. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  3. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law
  4. EU warns Turkey on anti-terror bill
  5. Report: EU secretly scorns UK's Brexit paper
  6. Hungary: UN treaty could 'inspire millions' of migrants
  7. Nato reacts after Trump disparages Montenegro
  8. EU bank deals blow to Iran arms deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us