After three months, A. El Haouari, who was sentenced to 9 years in prison by the Leuven criminal court at the end of May, but was able to have his ankle band removed for a few minutes, was arrested in Merksem on Wednesday. The man is in prison in Antwerp and is supervised by the Antwerp criminal court. This was reported by the federal police in a press release.
On May 31, 2022, A. El Haouari was convicted of theft with various aggravating circumstances. But a few minutes later, El Haouari got rid of his anklet, after which there was no trace of the man. According to the police, he would have wanted to stay under the radar, but exactly those months after his escape he could be caught in Merksem.
According to the police, a very focused search was underway for the man. And a collaboration between the Federal Police’s Fugitive Active Search Team (FAST) and the Local Police ensured that El Haouari was finally arrested. He was then taken to Antwerp prison where he is being monitored by the Antwerp Sentencing Court.
Better legal framework
In the month of August, FAST succeeded in apprehending no fewer than 10 fugitives. During the first days of September, two more arrests were added to the list. Head of department Gerry Van Loock is therefore satisfied: “Not only because of the high number of arrests, but especially because of the severity of the sentences that they can no longer avoid. The fugitives we were able to arrest in recent weeks have been sentenced together to decades in prison. Two of them were even sentenced to life imprisonment. That such serious criminals are no longer at large, that’s what we do it for.”
According to Commissioner Van Loock, the success of the FAST team is due to a combination of factors. “Thanks to the legal framework created in 2019, we can use an arsenal of modern investigative methods to track down fugitives. That has given us more clout,” it sounds.