Fatal Charleroi arrest: EU Commission will not investigate custody death of Slovak man

Fatal Charleroi arrest: EU Commission will not investigate custody death of Slovak man
© Belga

The European Commission will not investigate the deadly arrest of a Slovakian national by Belgian police, declining a largely symbolic request by Slovak authorities.

A resolution calling for the EU executive to investigate the controversial 2018 arrest and subsequent of Jozef Chovanec received widespread support in the Slovak parliament on Thursday.

Chovanec's death has spurred a media storm and brewing political scandal in Belgium after his widow released CCTV footage of several police officers aggressively restraining him and of one officer doing a Nazi salute as he was held down.

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The Slovak demand was expected to be rejected by the EU Commission, who in the course of Thursday said that it had no competency to interfere in member states' domestic affairs, Le Soir reports.

EU Commissioner for Justice, Belgium's Didier Reynders, has declined to comment on the matter saying the affair should be dealt with by national Belgian authorities.

But Slovak resolution was approved largely as a symbolic message of distrust towards Belgian authorities and the ongoing investigation, echoing a feeling already expressed by Chovanec's widow.

On 31 August, Slovak foreign affairs minister, Ivan Korčok took to Facebook to say Chovanec's death was "the most tragic case" he had seen so far in his career and said that "what was done to Chovanec showed a fatal failure of the forces of a foreign state" against a Slovak citizen.

"These crimes must be investigated and convicted by perpetrators," he added.

On Wednesday, Chovanec's widow gave an interview to Flemish public broadcaster VRT in which she also said she had no confidence in the Belgian investigation, accusing judges of dragging out the probe in an attempted cover-up.

She also said that Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, who was interior minister at the time of her husband's death, could not be trusted.

On Wednesday, Slovak Prime Minister said that he had received a letter from Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in which she expressed her condolences over the affair and said that a thorough investigation was underway, and on Thursday said he had had a phone call with Wilmès in which she called bringing the perpetrators to justice "her top priority."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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