A Dutch court has refused to extradite eight suspects facing drugs charges in Belgium to the Belgian authorities, saying it needed more information about prison conditions there.
The eight are thought to be part of an international gang which has been smuggling drugs into Europe from South America and were arrested in a joint Dutch Belgian operation.
However, judges in Amsterdam said they would not hand over the men to face trial because of concerns about the state of Belgian prisons. The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture said last month that conditions in Belgium’s prisons were the worst it had seen in Europe, particularly in terms of overcrowding.
‘The court must refuse a transfer if there is talk in the requesting country of a fundamental violation of human rights,’ the court said in its ruling.
All extraditions to Belgium have now been suspended pending further research. Last year, the Netherlands also stopped extraditions to Belgium during a prison officers’ strike.