Controversial Connections: Qatargate’s Impact on Belgium’s Judicial Credibility

Are the Belgian authorities interested in uncovering the main characters or players in the Qatargate corruption Scandal? There needs to be more clarity among Belgian authorities. The recent withdrawal of the arrest warrant of the Qatar labour minister shows scepticism and no apparent intent of Belgian authorities.  

In January, the arrest of the Qatari Minister of Labor, Ali Bin Samih Al Mari, Betahar Budzelal, and the Moroccos ambassador to Poland, Abderachim Atmoun, were issued by Belgian prosecution. Later, the chief investigating judge, Michel Claise, withdrew the arrest notification. 

According to Anthony Rizzo, a law expert, It’s pretty uncommon to issue a national notice for a person’s arrest and then take back the orders just a week later.  He suggested that the decision to withdraw the statement was likely due to political pressure. 

Why do the prosecutors keep changing their minds? Here, the one evident thing is that the Belgian authorities need clarification. Different stories are spreading, but nothing has been confirmed. According to Belgian media, Al Mari’s warrant was cancelled in exchange for Qatar’s help. Qatar negotiated the release of Belgian citizen Olivier Vandecasteele. He has been in Iranian detention for more than a year.

This context introduces new complexities and questions the motives behind the investigation, and the credibility of the Belgian judiciary and police role is also doubtful. To clear the confusion, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also commented that “there was never any reference to any other case that would have secured the release of Belgian citizens. He added that Oman, not Qatar, negotiated the negotiations. 

Since the scandal was discovered in December last year, Al Mari has yet to go to the European Union. However, he visited Jordan, Morocco and Geneva.

It suggests that Belgian authorities take the issue seriously and are willing to take action. Belgian authorities should review their position and take action to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

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