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Investigation into acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines: clarifications

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(Luxembourg, 17 May 2024) – On 14 October 2022, while receiving an exceptionally high number of reports and complaints, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) confirmed that it was investigating the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines in the European Union. No further details can be made public about this ongoing investigation, in order not to endanger its outcome.

In 2023, several private parties filed similar complaints with an investigative judge in Liège (Belgium). 

In May 2023, as foreseen under Belgian criminal procedure, the regional prosecution office of Liège transferred a copy of the complaints filed with the investigative judge to the EPPO. The EPPO concluded that the complaints concern facts falling under its material competence. It is therefore now for the EPPO, as competent prosecution office, to take a position on the legality of the complaints filed with the investigative judge in Liège, and for the Court (Chambre du Conseil) to decide on it. 

This was the object of the hearing scheduled today. The case was adjourned until 6 December 2024.

On this occasion, the EPPO would like to make the following clarifications: 

According to Belgian criminal procedure, an investigative judge has the power to investigate (alleged) offences if the offences are committed in the territory under his competence, or if the suspect is residing in this territory, including offences falling under the competence of the EPPO. 

According to the Belgian criminal procedure, when an investigative judge is involved, the European Delegated Prosecutors ought to cooperate with seven designated investigative judges, in accordance with their respective territorial competence. 

However, the EPPO has consistently drawn the attention of the European Commission to the manifest lack of compliance with the EPPO Regulation of the Belgian criminal procedure, involving an investigative judge who carries out an entire investigation with full investigative powers. Under applicable EU law, it is for the EPPO to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of criminal offences damaging the EU budget. One of the consequences of this non-compliance is that there are now separate procedures pending before different judicial bodies for complaints originating in the same set of facts.