Thursday

6th Aug 2020

Belgian prosecutor probes MEP over police racism complaint

  • Police say the entire incident at Brussels' Gare du Nord station was filmed by security cameras. The lawyer of MEP Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana said police allegations were 'just false' (Photo: European Parliament)

The Brussels public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation against German MEP Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, after she filed a "racist aggression" complaint against Belgian police officers and gave testimony in the European Parliament.

During a debate about racism, Herzberger-Fofana, who is black, told fellow MEPs that she was harassed and intimidated by Belgian police earlier this month (16 June) after she was filming nine police officers allegedly harassing two black teenagers at the train station Gare du Nord in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The officers involved said they were looking for two Eritreans who were previously accused of a robbery with an iron bar at the station.

The 71-year-old Green MEP filed a complaint saying that armed police pushed her against the wall and used physical force to make her stand with her legs open in what she described as very "humiliating".

"They grabbed my phone from my hands. Four police brutally pushed me against the wall, took my purse and pressed me to the wall, legs apart, and one policeman searched me, they did not believe I was an MEP," she said.

Belgian police have now launched an investigation into the incident, accusing the MEP of resisting and threatening its agents.

Following the request of the Brussels prosecutor, an official report was drawn up against Herzberger-Fofana for resisting and contempt, the spokeswoman of the Brussels North police zone Audrey Dereymaeker told EUobserver on Monday (29 June).

She also said that this was a "normal procedure", since there was allegedly a problem with Herzberger-Fofana's identity papers during the incident.

Police also said the entire incident was filmed by security cameras.

The Brussels prosecutor will decide whether or not to instigate legal proceedings to appear in court for defamation against the police.

Meanwhile, her own separate racism complaint is also being investigated by Belgian authorities.

The Brussels prosecutor office declined to comment when contacted by EUobserver.

Alexis Deswaef, Herzberger-Fofana's lawyer, said the police allegations were "just false," according to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard.

"That report for defamation is not consistent with reality - it's just false. We will prove in court that we are telling the truth," he said.

"There is also a witness, a professor of human rights from the University of Ghent, who also endorses our view of the matter," he added.

The president of the VSOA police union, Vincent Gilles, said that if the ongoing investigation proves that the officers were right, he expects an apology from MEPs.

"She was allowed to accuse police officers of racism without any objection. Consequently, if the investigation shows that the officers were acting correctly, I expect nothing less than all applauding parliamentarians to apologise to those officers," he said.

Black MEP: 'I have been a victim of police violence'

MEPs urged an end to structural racism and discrimination in Europe and the US, following the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by US police. Socialists and Green MEPs stressed the need to unblock the anti-discrimination directive.

Opinion

Black MEPs: Why no non-white EU commissioners?

The EU is not an exception. We have both been stopped on several occasions by security personnel in the European Parliament asking us what business we had on the premises. None of our white colleagues have reported such experiences.

Six 'LGBTI-free' Polish cities left out of EU funding

Six Polish cities that declared themselves as "LGBTI-free zones" have been denied funding under the EU's Town Twinning programme for failing to meet the standards of "equal access and non-discrimination".

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  2. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  3. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  4. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery
  5. Azerbaijan ambassador to EU shared anti-George Floyd post
  6. Polish party roars back at EU on LGBTI fines
  7. EU: Hong Kong election delay undermines democracy
  8. Why hydrogen is no magic solution for EU Green Deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us