European Parliament pushes Belgium for ‘truth’ in fatal Charleroi arrest
Share article:
Share article:

European Parliament pushes Belgium for ‘truth’ in fatal Charleroi arrest

EP President David Sassoli © EP Media Centre

The European Parliament (EP) is backing calls for the truth to come to light as Belgium continues to investigate the 2018 death of a Slovak national after a controversial arrest in Charleroi.

EP President David Sassoli on Tuesday opened the assembly’s plenary session expressing solidarity with the victim’s family and calling for transparency in the probe.

“We join in on pleas for the truth to be found and call for explanations from those responsible,” Sassoli said to MEPs in Brussels. “I stress once again that the respect for human rights and for the rule of law is a central value of the European Union.”

Sassoli said his address in the EP came after “several calls from colleagues and citizens” drew his attention to the case of 38-year-old Jozef Chovanec, a Slovak national who died after being held by Belgian federal police officers in Charleroi Airport in 2018.

Under investigation for years, the man’s death was thrust back into the spotlight after footage emerged of Chovanec’s arrest in the airport, in which one officer can be seen doing a Nazi salute while several others restrain Chovanec.

Ahead of the officers’ intervention, the video shows Chovanec acting erratically inside an airport cell and banging his head on the door until he begins to bleed.

The footage then shows several officers restraining him and one officer kneeling on his back for several minutes even after he was immobilised and did not show physical resistance.

Sassoli said that the EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties had been assigned to deal with the case and said that the rest of the parliament would “follow developments closely.”

Sassoli’s comments follow calls from Slovak authorities for the European Commission to look into the case, in a largely symbolic move underscoring distrust in the Belgian investigation already expressed by Chovanec’s widow, who said top Belgian officials were attempting to bury the probe.

Last week, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova doubled down on pressuring Belgium for a full investigation, announcing she would issue a request for a Slovak investigator to assist in the probe.

The return of Chovanec’s death to the spotlight has spurred a political storm in Belgium, landing the federal police and Former Interior Minister Jan Jambon in hot water as Belgian MPs launched a parliamentary commission into their handling of the affair.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

More politicians than ordinary citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe
The second Plenary of the Conference took place on Saturday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and discussed the contributions from the ...
Belgium’s Consultative Committee to meet on Tuesday
The next meeting of Belgium's Consultative Committee, scheduled for Friday, has been brought forward to Tuesday at 4:30 PM, according to local media ...
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Unilever are world’s biggest plastic polluters
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Unilever were found to be the world's biggest polluters of plastic in a report published by Branded on Monday. Over 11,000 ...
Four men charged with illegally buying thousands of live ducks to hunt on private land
Four Belgian men will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the purchase of thousands of ducks, which were then released into a private ...
More wolf attacks: 15 deer killed at family resort over the weekend
Fifteen deer were killed by wolves in the Belgian province of Limburg this weekend, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The deer were ...
Cost of breast cancer still too high for many patients
Breast cancer still carries too high a cost for patients when one in nine women in Belgium will face the disease before reaching 75, according to a ...
Gare Maritime: Brussels’ most exciting new architectural project
A generation ago, the Gare Maritime in the Tour & Taxis industrial site was an abandoned wasteland. It is now a model for urban renewal and ...
Belgium in Brief: Rules For A Fourth Wave
It's the news that nobody wants to hear, but here we go again. Belgium’s council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss ...
Belgian grandparents to walk across Scotland for COP26
A group of Belgian grandparents has set off on a 100 km hike that will take them from Belgium to the Scottish city of Glasgow, just ahead of the ...
Rise in fuel prices will bring Belgian State €547 million in tax, say Workers Party
The sharp rise in fuel prices that have been felt across the continent will bring an additional €547 million to the Belgian State, the Workers' Party ...
Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims
After multiple rallies against sexual violence took place in Brussels last week, with victims offering testimony of poor treatment from police when ...
Person hit by train in Brussels
A person was hit by a train in the tunnel between Brussels North and Brussels Central at around 10:20 AM on Monday, railway network manager Infrabel ...