Fatal Charleroi arrest: former interior minister to be heard by Justice Committee

Fatal Charleroi arrest: former interior minister to be heard by Justice Committee
Still from CCTV footage originally obtained by Het Laatste Nieuws

Belgium’s former interior minister has been called to defend himself after allegations that he had knowledge of a fatal arrest at Charleroi Airport two years ago.

The arrest involved Jozef Chovanec, a Slovak man who died following his arrest at the airport after a heavy-handed intervention by police.

Current Interior Minister Pieter De Crem and Justice Minister Koen Geens were heard by the Interior and Justice Committees on Wednesday at short notice after images of the arrest surfaced last week.

De Crem told MPs, based on information received from his foreign affairs colleague, that on 2 July 2018, a director of the Federal Public Foreign Affairs Service (FPS Foreign Affairs) received the Slovak ambassador regarding the death of Chovanec.

During this meeting, the ambassador stated that he had already been in contact with Jambon. On 4 July, a report of this meeting was sent to then-Interior Minister Jan Jambon’s chief of staff. De Crem said that previously, on 2 March, the ambassador was received at Jambon’s office.

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Jambon, however, said a few days ago that he had “never been told anything about this, not a single word,” according to Het Laatste Nieuws.

"We are going to investigate and the minister will then give all the necessary information to the committee," Jambon’s cabinet said. It is not yet known when Jambon will appear before the committees.

The investigation into Chovanec’s death has been ongoing for over two years and has led to the Federal Police’s second in command to temporarily step aside, and the director of the Aviation Police has also been relieved of his duties.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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