World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder on Thursday welcomed a decision by a court in Versailles, France to allow the extradition to Belgium of Mehdi Nemmouche, the man suspected of having perpetrated the murder of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels a month ago.
“This man should face justice in Belgium, which is where this heinous crime was committed,” Lauder declared. “We have every confidence in the ability of the Belgian judiciary to conduct a fair and expeditious trial. The truth will come out in the end, and justice needs to be done.”
The court decided on Thursday that Nemmouche should be handed over to Belgian authorities who are investigating last month's museum attack. The 29-year-old had fought with Islamic extremists in Syria and was arrested carrying weapons resembling those used in the killings.
His lawyer, Apolin Pepiezep, said they would appeal the extradition decision, arguing that the case should be handled in France because Nemmouche is a French citizen and was arrested in France.
Following representations from the WJC, the Belgian authorities have reportedly agreed to provide the necessary means to better protect Jewish sites in the country from such attacks. Lauder thanked them and urged European leaders to take the problem of jihadist fighters returning from Syria to Europe seriously.
“The WJC will continue to raise this issue with governments and European institutions. We expect Europe to come up with an action plan that provides long-term security for Jews and Jewish sites across the continent,” Lauder said.
In the wake of the attack, a solidarity mission of the WJC comprised of international Jewish community leaders came to Brussels earlier this month and held talks with Belgian government ministers, including Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet, Justice Minister Annemie Turtelboom, and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.
It was agreed to establish a joint commission between the WJC, the local Jewish community, and the Belgian federal government to look into ways of fighting anti-Semitism and terror threats and improving Holocaust education.