Fatal Charleroi arrest: ‘fascists have no place’ in police, airport minister says
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Fatal Charleroi arrest: ‘fascists have no place’ in police, airport minister says

Fascists have no place in democratic bodies and the police, Walloon Airport Minister Jean-Luc Crucke says on Monday morning on Bel RTL.

Crucke was interviewed about the case of a Slovakian man who died after a heavy-handed arrest in Charleroi Airport in 2018. Images of the arrest surfaced last week and included an officer giving a Hitler salute.

“There are gestures that have no place among professionals such as police officers and that in no way excuses his violence, which was also quite abnormal,” said the minister, as the man had banged his head against the wall to the point of bleeding, after which officers tried to restrain him.

“In a democracy, police officers have a training that does not allow us to see what we saw there. For Belgium, this is a stain and an investigation must be completed as soon as possible,” Crucke said, referring to Interior Minister Pieter De Crem, who is in charge of police.

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Meanwhile, De Crem, who said that the images were “shocking” and “burned on everyone’s retina,” has said that any potential dismissals or suspensions were in the hands of the police themselves.

Asked about the conditions of the investigation and in particular about the time lag between the date of the events and their recent publicity, Crucke said he was informed “very quickly” by the airport services of this “violent incident” with a passenger, but maintained “that an investigation can take time, so I am not going to judge the investigation. What is needed is to get to the bottom of it,” he concluded.

An investigation into the cause of the man’s death is still ongoing after more than two years. The man’s wife has called for a new judge to be appointed to her husband’s case, and has said that she fears the case is being covered up.

The federal police’s number two in command temporarily stepped aside on Thursday in a personal decision after not having been informed about the details of the arrest. The case will now be brought before the Belgian Justice Committee.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times