Belgian immigration head fined over visa rejections

Conservative politician Theo Francken joked that bailiffs have taken away his possessions​. He owes the government 30,000 euros for failing to appear at a tribunal over his refusal to give visas to a family in Aleppo.

Belgium’s immigration minister, Theo Francken, refused to pay a fine on Wednesday amid a deepening row over his refusal to issue visas to a family from the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo.

Francken is being charged 4,000 euros ($4,439) per day that he does not attend a tribunal over the matter, equating to 1,000 per person in the family. He took to Facebook on Wednesday to post a picture of himself in an empty office, joking that the bailiffs had taken everything to compensate for his debt.

The dispute centers on a family from the besieged eastern side of Aleppo, which has been subjected to fierce fighting between Syrian government forces, moderate rebels and “Islamic State” (IS) terrorists that has killed hundreds of civilians in the past two months. Francken reportedly rejected them for having relatively tenuous ties to Belgium, though friends in the town of Namur have offered to host the couple, and their two children, ages 5 and 8.

“Our people have already shown themselves particularly welcoming during the asylum crisis,” Belgian news agency Belga reported Francken as saying.