March 24, 2016 - 11:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey said Wednesday, March 23 it had detained and then deported Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the two suicide bombers at Brussels airport, and accused the Belgian authorities of failing to confirm his links to terror, AFP reports.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish authorities detained the attacker in June last year in Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border, and then deported the "foreign terrorist fighter" to the Netherlands at his request.
A Turkish official confirmed to AFP that the attacker in question was 30-year-old Ibrahim El Bakraoui, a Belgian citizen who was one of the two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels airport on Tuesday.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said he was aware that the man had been sent to the Netherlands from Turkey, but denied that he had been flagged as a possible terrorist, AFP says.
Erdogan however said the Belgian authorities had failed to confirm the suspect's links to terrorism "despite our warnings" following his deportation.
He said Belgian consular authorities were formally notified of his deportation on July 14, 2015, adding that he was then released by the Belgian authorities, without giving a timeframe.
Geens said Belgian federal prosecutors told him the suspect was stopped at the Turkey-Syrian border and sent to the Netherlands.
"At that time, he was not known here for terrorism," he told Belgium's VRT television. "He was a common law criminal out on parole."