Belgian authorities have moved to open an investigation into allegations that a black MEP insulted police officers whom she has accused of using racist violence against her.
Earlier this month, Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, a 71-year-old MEP from the Greens group, took the floor in the European Parliament to tell her colleagues that she had filed a legal complaint against several Belgian police officers who had “brutally pressed” her against a wall to search for documents.
Herzberger-Fofana said the incident on June 16 occurred after she tried to use her mobile phone to film police “harassing” black youths near Gare du Nord in Brussels. The officers refused to believe her when she said she was an MEP, she said. “I consider this as a racist and discriminatory act,” she declared.
Belgian police denied the accusations but have also launched an investigation into the incident. However, it has emerged that Herzberger-Fofana could herself be the subject of an investigation.
A police spokesperson said Monday that, as is routine, police officers filed a report of the incident to a judge from the public prosecutor’s office. The judge then “asked them to draft an official report for verbal insult,” said Audrey Dereymaeker, a spokesperson for the Brussels police northern headquarters.
“The drafting of the report is the first step to an investigation for insult,” Dereymaeker said.
Dereymaeker said that during the incident “there was a problem concerning Mrs.Herzberger-Fofana’s identity papers,” and “she was searched by a female colleague.”
She said that, according to police, the MEP did not resist physically but committed “an outrage regarding the terms she used.”
Herzberger-Fofana could not immediately be reached for comment. However, she has previously strongly denied insulting the police officers.
Following the incident, European Parliament President David Sassoli urged Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès to take “immediate and necessary measures” and “resolve this painful case as soon as possible.” Wilmès replied that an investigation had been launched into the complaint.