Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel rejected on Thursday the resignations offered by Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens over the case of Brahim el-Bakraoui; one of the two suicide attackers who carried out last Tuesday's attacks at Zaventem international airport in Brussels, and who is thought to have been arrested by Turkey and later expelled in 2015.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday in a press conference in Ankara that one of the suicide attackers (el-Bakraoui) was arrested by Turkey in June 2015 in Gaziantep and was later deported, and claimed that the Belgian embassy was notified of his expulsion, however, Belgium did not arrest him.
The Belgian prime minister rejected both resignations considering that the current situation is unfavorable to dispense with the services of the two ministers in the wake of the attacks at the international airport and Maelbeek metro station, newspaper Le Soir reported.
Erdogan insisted that both Holland, to where el-Bakraoui wanted to be extradited, and Belgium were warned that el-Bakraoui was a "foreign fighter".
On Wednesday, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said that his country did not know that el-Bakraoui had anything to do with terrorism, and told VRT channel that he was not extradited to Belgium, but rather sent to the Syrian-Turkish borders.
According to the newspaper Standaard, el-Bakraoui was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2011 for armed robbery and was later paroled in 2014 in Belgium.
Following his release, he was again searched by security forces because he breached the terms of his release, according to the Belga agency.
At least 31 people died, while 300 were wounded in the attacks on Tuesday in Brussels.