Belgian firms prosecuted over Syria chemical exports

Date: 
April, 2018
Country: 
Belgium

Three Belgian companies are being prosecuted for exporting chemicals to Syria, one of which could be used in the production of sarin gas.

The firms say they acted with the seeming consent of Belgian customs between 2014 and 2016, but were subsequently alleged to have failed to apply for the permits that would protect them from falling foul of a current global ban on the exports.

According to a UK research group, Bellingcat, and a German non-profit organisation, Syrian Archive, Belgium is the only EU country to have exported a chemical called isopropanol since July 2013, when a prohibition from the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) came into force.

The customs investigation into the firms appears to have been initiated by the Dutch authorities.

Isopropanol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol, is found in disinfectants, cleaning agents, paints and varnishes, but it is also a major component of the type of gas used in recent suspected chemical attacks by the Assad regime.

Source: The Guardian