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Undocumented migrant fights to prove his identity in bid to land €250,000 lottery prize

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By AFP  with Euronews
A French gambler fills in a lottery ticket of Super Loto.
A French gambler fills in a lottery ticket of Super Loto.   -   Copyright  FRANCK FIFE / AFP, FILE

An undocumented migrant is battling to prove his identity to cash in a €250,000 lottery prize in Belgium.

The 28-year-old Algerian bought the winning scratch card for €5 a few weeks ago in a Zeebrugge supermarket but has been unable to claim his winnings.

Alexander Verstraete -- the young man's lawyer -- told AFP news agency that his client was desperately working to prove his identity to the Belgian authorities.

"My client is in an illegal situation, he has no papers and no bank account", Verstraete said. "We are looking for those documents that can prove his identity, he will have to contact his family in Algeria".

The public prosecutor's office in Bruges has opened an investigation to find the lucky winner.

The authorities have the winning ticket after three of the man's friends -- who are also from North Africa -- tried to recover the money.

The men were briefly held in police custody last week on suspicion of theft but have now been released.

According to Verstraete, the man does not intend to apply for asylum in Belgium and has been assured that he will not be deported until he has received his lottery prize.

According to Belgium's national lottery website, the Ca$h scratch card in question offers a "1 in 3.69" chance of winning but retailers who sell the tickets cannot give out large cash prizes.

When a winning ticket collects €250,000, the holder must claim their prize from the lottery headquarters in Brussels.

"The winner has not shown up at our place, we have not seen him, which is blocking the procedure for the awarding of the prize for the time being," said Joke Vermoere, spokesperson for the national lottery.