Luxembourg foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn is pictured in this archive photo
Photo: Maison moderne/archives
Luxembourg’s prosecution has issued a warrant for the arrest of a foreign man who grew up in Luxembourg and is being detained in Syria on suspicion of being an ISIS fighter.
Responding to a request from the CSV political group, justice minister Sam Tanson (déi Gréng) confirmed in parliament on Tuesday that an arrest warrant had been issued for Portuguese national Steve Duarte. But, unless he escapes and is arrested in Europe, it seems unlikely that he will be successfully extradited to Luxembourg because he is not a Luxembourg national. If he is tried in Iraq and found guilty, he could face the death penalty.
What happens next remains unclear, however, because since the Turkish offensive in Syria, the government had no new information about the detainee. Foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) explained that work is underway to create an international tribunal for foreign jihadi fighters in Iraq with the aim to try European nationals who joined Islamic State group and are detained in Iraq and Syria. While the Luxembourg government supports the principle, it does not have unanimous backing from EU member states.
What next for Duarte?
Parliament examined three possible scenarios for Duarte: that he escapes and makes it to Luxembourg where he will be arrested and tried by the Luxembourg courts; that he escapes and is arrested in an EU country and is extradited to Luxembourg and tried there; or that he is tried in Iraq or Syria, in which case Luxembourg would not be able to extradite the suspect because he is not a Luxembourg national.
On 26 June, Rudaw posted an unsubstantiated interview of a man claiming to be Duarte. In it the man, who was being detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces, said he wanted to return to Luxembourg and was “ready to go to prison”.