BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Brussels suicide bomber Khalid El Bakraoui violated the terms of his parole last May by maintaining contacts with past criminal associates but a Belgian magistrate released him, De Morgen newspaper said on Thursday.
The report emerged as the interior and justice ministers offered to resign over the failure to re-arrest Bakraoui’s brother Brahim, also convicted of a violent crime, when he was sent back from Turkey and in apparent breach of his parole.
Brahim El Bakraoui, 29, was one of two men who blew themselves up at Brussels airport on Tuesday, while Khalid El Bakraoui, 26, detonated a bomb at Maelbeek metro station in the city center.
The paper quoted prosecutor Christian Henry in the southern city of Mons as saying that on May 13, 2015, Khalid El Bakraoui drew police attention because he parked his car in a one-way street facing in the wrong direction. It then turned out he was sitting in the car with a former criminal associate, in violation of his 2013 parole.
But he was released again by the court, because he had strictly complied with the other parole conditions, like seeking a job and reporting regularly for checks with the assistant prosecutor. He showed no signs of being radicalized then.
The prosecutors office was not available for comment.
Things changed from Oct. 22, the paper quoted prosecutor Henry as saying, shortly before the Paris attacks on Nov. 13.
Khalid El Bakraoui missed four scheduled meetings with the assistant prosecutor and moved out from his old address without informing the authorities. This was a violation of his parole, which was subsequently revoked last month.
Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Catherine Evans