Belgium, due to its strategic positioning between France, Germany and the UK, holds one of Europe’s largest ports, Antwerp. This also means that it is from here that the logistics for all of Western Europe are arranged (together with the Dutch port of Rotterdam) and that it is in this area that most oil and chemical companies store their European reserves.
What is surprising is that 3 Belgian companies seem to have flagrantly violated European law and allowed shipments of the main component for Sarin gas (the component is called Isopropanol) to be transported to Syria as from 2013, for a total of 96 tonnes.
The Antwerp Criminal Court has now set a trial date for three Belgian companies (chemical group AAE Chemie and two handling agents, Danmar Logistics and Anex Customs).
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="fr" dir="ltr">La Belgique exportait un composant du gaz sarin vers la <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Syrie?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Syrie</a> .<br><br>Les 3 entreprises anversoises sont: A.A.E. Chemie Trading, Annex Customs et Danmar Logistics<a href="https://t.co/VoPgiAPmRw">https://t.co/VoPgiAPmRw</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/lavenir_net?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@lavenir_net</a></p>— h☮mer ﺕ (@rolmou) <a href="https://twitter.com/rolmou/status/986679056161701889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 18, 2018</a></blockquote>
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A spokesman for the Antwerp court, Mr. Roland Cassiers: “After investigating the matter, Belgium’s federal customs administration believes that the export of various chemical substances had been carried out without a proper export license for these products.”
The case will focus on whether the three companies exported the chemical, which was prohibited for export by the EU in 2013, between 2014 and 2016 to Lebanon and Syria.
Back in 2013, the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad was ordered to destroy its remaining stockpile of isopropanol. Belgium was the only country that has since then still exported the product to Syria.
Danmar Logistics reacted via a statement: “Both my companies and AAE Chemie have always acted in good faith. We have always fully complied with the checks of customs officers at the port of Antwerp.”