Said Chaou, former MP and drug trafficker at heart of Dutch-Moroccan row, arrested

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A Dutch-Moroccan national at the center of a long-running diplomatic row between the two countries was arrested in the Netherlands on Thursday, a move hailed by Rabat. Rabat had described the man, Said Chaou, as a “notorious drug trafficker” and has warned of reprisals if the extradition request was snubbed.

“After seven years of waiting, the Moroccan requests have been treated in a serious and concrete manner and the case has been finally activated,” a senior Moroccan diplomat told AFP following news of the arrest.

Also read: ‘Drug dealer’ sparks diplomatic buzz between Morocco and the Netherlands

“It is an acknowledgement of the reliability of the judicial case presented by Morocco,” the diplomat said, adding: “This is an example which could pave the way for greater cooperation with northern European nations in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.”

Chaou backs independence for Morocco’s Rif region, hit by weeks of protests, and has reportedly posted messages online in support of demonstrators demanding an end to corruption and for jobs in the mainly Berber area.

Moroccan officials said two international arrest warrants had been issued against him, in 2010 and 2015. According to the second warrant, Chaou was living in The Netherlands and was accused of corruption and drug trafficking. Moroccan authorities allege he trafficked several tons of cannabis into Europe.

Moroccan authorities also accuse him of murder. “Said Chaou was arrested this afternoon ... and the justice ministry is studying the question of the extradition of this Dutch-Moroccan national,” justice ministry spokeswoman Karen Timmink told AFP.

“The arrest took place because Morocco assured us that Said Chaou will only be judged for alleged drug trafficking and not for his political activities.”

Chaou’s case will now have to go before a court to see if judges agree to extradite him. Chaou has reportedly lived in The Netherlands for most of the past 22 years.

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