The Belgian former N-VA councilor and former cabinet intermediary Melikan Kucam has to be jailed for eight years for being guilty of human smuggling. The court of Antwerp determined this on Tuesday. In addition to a prison sentence, the judge imposed a fine of 696,000 euros on Kucam. The judge also found the councilor guilty of passive bribery. His son and wife were also sentenced to four years and forty months in prison respectively, because they were aware of or helped with the fraudulent practices.
Kucam was paid by Syrian Christians for a humanitarian migrant visa. The councilor acted as an intermediary under the authority of Theo Francken, then State Secretary for Asylum in the federal government. Francken had allowed Kucam to submit lists of the names of Syrian Christians in danger. They could get a visa to come to Belgium.
According to the judge, this concerned a total of 219 refugees. Some of them never applied for asylum in Belgium, but traveled on illegally to another European country. Some refugees stated that they had bought the visas in exchange for amounts of up to 10,000 euros. The judge did not rule on the role of the Belgian cabinet.
The councilor was arrested in early 2019. If the allegations were true, Francken felt “totally abused” by his confidant, the state secretary said shortly after the arrest. Kucam himself has always denied that he has been paid. According to the councilor, the case was set up to put the N-VA in a bad light. He demands acquittal and appeals with his husband and son.
Under the authority of the prominent ex-secretary of state, a municipal councilor appears to have obtained a visa to have sold refugees for large sums.