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Fatal Charleroi arrest: ‘What happened is not normal’

An officer who was caught on a surveillance camera giving a Hitler salute during a fatal arrest at Charleroi Airport will be imposed disciplinary measures, the federal police decided on Wednesday.

The incident dates back to February 2018 but images have only recently surfaced. The arrest involved a 38-year-old man who seriously injured himself inside the police cell, and officers were heavy-handed to the point of sitting on him to restrain him.

The man went into cardiac arrest and died a few days later. An investigation into the cause of death has been ongoing for over two years now.

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The federal police had not been aware of the camera images and the actions that could be seen, Federal police spokesperson Sarah Frederickx said.

“We take it very seriously. On the one hand there is the criminal investigation that has to determine the cause of death and whether there were police errors. On the other hand, there is an aspect of norms and values that we take very seriously. We have asked for access to the judicial file in order to take measures,” at a disciplinary level.

The police officer who gave the Hitler salute “will no longer be allowed to do operational services or have contact with the public,” according to Frederickx. “So she gets a different branch package. That’s quite a heavy measure. The disciplinary investigation will have to decide whether additional measures need to be imposed.” The agent still works at Charleroi airport.

“As soon as we knew (of the actions on the images), and that’s today, we started a preliminary investigation”, said the federal police. “What happened is not normal things. The investigation must also determine why we never saw the images. We’re taking the case very seriously and we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

The top of the federal police will follow up the file, according to the spokesperson.

BSCA, the manager of Charleroi airport, reports that it wants to be a civil party in the file because these are “unacceptable acts.”

The Brussels Times

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