Judicial error: Suspected jihadist can't be punished for breaking area ban

Mounir E. from Spijkensse can not be prosecuted for breaking an area ban imposed on him during the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this year, because of "carelessness" by the Ministry of Security and Justice when imposing the ban, the court in Rotterdam ruled, AD reports.

E. was arrested early this year after returning from Syria on suspicion of membership to a forbidden organization. He was acquitted and released shortly before the marathon in April. After his release, the authorities picked up signals that he is radicalized and the Ministry of Security and Justice imposed an area ban on him that applied while the Rotterdam marathon was happening. E. was not allowed to enter Rotterdam city center during this time, the ban said. He was arrested for breaking this ban.

According to the court of Rotterdam, Minister Stef Blok of Security and Justice was within his rights to impose this area ban on E. However, the Minister failed to indicate exactly what streets are considered to be part of the city center. 

"Because of this, E. could not know where he could and could not go that weekend", his lawyer Bart Nooitgedagt explained to newspaper AD. "And so he can not be prosecuted for it."

Mounir E. is one of the first people in the Netherlands to face the consequences of the new Temporary Law on Administrative Measures Against Terrorism, which was implemented on March 1st. According to AD, the law gives the Minister of Security and Justice the power to impose measures against someone if he or she is suspected of posing a danger to, for example, a particular event - even if the person in question hasn't done anything yet. Measures include a temporary area ban, an obligation to report to the police at certain times or being forced to wear an ankle monitor for a certain period. 

Nooitgedagt has mixed feelings about the court's verdict, he said to the newspaper. "The judge ruled that the imposed area ban had to be much better defined by the minister. The chance that he will be prosecuted for it is nil. With regards to the reporting obligation and ankle monitor: that the minister could simply impose. I have these doubts about that. A: my client was acquitted of terrorism, and B: the so-called signals [of radicalization] are based on very dated information."

A spokesperson for the Ministry admitted to AD that the area ban was "carelessly" communicated to E.