EU court opinion goes against Belgium in asylum case

A top official of the European Union's highest court says Belgium must grant a humanitarian visa to a Syrian family seeking asylum even though the family has no strong ties to the country.

Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi said in an opinion Tuesday that any EU member state should provide a visa on humanitarian grounds if there is fear for grave consequences otherwise.

The Belgian government has refused to grant humanitarian visas to the family from the besieged city of Aleppo, arguing the links are too tenuous. It has been fined 4,000 euros ($4,270) a day for defying a local appeal tribunal. The family is believed still to be in Syria.

The opinion is not binding on the court itself but is often followed in the final ruling.