Fatal Charleroi arrest: Slovakia wants special envoy to investigate custody death
Thursday, 10 September 2020
Slovakia is seeking to send an envoy to Belgium to take in the investigation into the role of top Belgian police and officials in the 2018 death of a Slovak national, Slovakia’s president said in a public statement.
In an address on Thursday, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said she was confident that having a Slovak expert involved in the probe would increase public confidence on the results.
“I am convinced that this step may help increase the trustworthiness in the investigation in the eyes of the Slovak and Belgian public,” Caputova said, Slovak media reports. “I will ask the Belgian side to consider this request by the bereaved.”
Caputova expressed concern over the fact that the investigation into the death of Jozef Chovanec, who died after a controversial police intervention following an arrest at Charleroi Airport, remained inconclusive 2 years after the facts.
“Although our representative bodies in Belgium have been active in the case since the very beginning, it is disturbing that the case has not been properly investigated in such a long time,” she said.
Chovanec’s death was thrust back into the spotlight in recent weeks, after the release of CCTV footage showing several officers restraining him while one officer does a Nazi salute landed Belgian officials, including the foreign interior minister, in hot water.
A spokesperson for the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The request announced by Caputova comes as a new sign of scepticism from Slovakian officials of the Belgian investigation, echoing concerns voiced by Chovanec’s widow, who openly accused officials of seeking to bury the case and refuted the officially account regarding her late husband’s cause of death.
In a largely symbolic move at the start of September, the Slovak prime minister called on the European Commission to trigger an investigation into the case, which the EU said it had no competency to lead.