Morocco recalled its ambassador to The Hague after Dutch authorities failed to extradite a drug dealer wanted by the Moroccan justice and allegedly accused of funding unrest in the northern Rif region.
Morocco’s foreign ministry released a statement explaining that contacts have been made in recent days with Dutch authorities at the level of Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers concerning the extradition of a notorious drug dealer, identified as Said Chaou, a former Moroccan MP.
The statement adds that the drug dealer in question has been subject of two international arrest warrants issued by Moroccan courts and that precise information have been communicated to the Netherlands on Chaou’s involvement in funding and offering logistical support to some parties in Northern Morocco.
“Having faithfully cooperated with the EU and the Netherlands in the fight against drug trafficking, Morocco cannot tolerate the fact that a notorious trafficker is still running away from justice,” said the statement.
Pending the Netherlands’ response, the statement said that the Moroccan ambassador will remain in Morocco and that his return depends on the unfolding of the issue.
In a reaction to the Moroccan extradition request, the Dutch foreign and justice ministries said in a joint statement that Rabat’s comments were “incomprehensible and unnecessary”.
“The Netherlands is committed now and in the future to an effective collaboration with Morocco based on international legal frameworks and the protection of the rule of law,” added the joint statement.
Chaou backs unrest in the Rif region and has recently published online a video instigating protests. Moroccan authorities accuse him of seeking to recreate chaos in the Rif to resume his lucrative cannabis trafficking activities.
Chaou owned a cannabis café in the Netherland, which was closed because it served overdoses to its clients. He was reportedly arrested in 2015 in the southern Dutch town of Roosendaal as part of a crackdown on a drug network, the Dutch broadcaster NOS said.