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We don't let just anybody in

By all accounts, Hakim Ghazouani deserved the prison sentence a court in Belgium handed him. Although still in his mid-20s, he already had convictions for robbery and dealing narcotics. So when he escaped, you might expect that a manhunt would ensue. Not quite. Last month, Ghazouani took advantage of an opportunityafforded by a visit to the prison medical clinic at Ghent to reclaim his freedom. Oh, police did issue a warning to the public about him. But if not for his lawyer, who talked him into surrendering again, he might still be on the loose. Just to make sure her client would deliver on his pledge, Nathalie Buisseret even escorted him to another lockup, this one in Verviers, miles away near the border with Germany. End of story? Ah, no. When they arrived, prison officials not only weren't relieved, they also told him he couldn't stay. As Buisseret put it: "He couldn't show his identity card. The warden told [him] to come back later, with his papers." Fortunately for the public, he did. In the meantime, it occurred to the administrators at Verviers that it might be a good ideaif they explained themselves. Said one: "We'd never seen him before, and we couldn't identify him. It would have been a scandal if we'd locked up the wrong person."


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