Reconstruction of fatal arrest at Charleroi airport planned for September
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Reconstruction of fatal arrest at Charleroi airport planned for September

Still from CCTV footage originally obtained by Het Laatste Nieuws

The reconstruction of the arrest of Jozef Chovanec at Charleroi airport that resulted in his death in 2018 is expected at the end of September.

The reconstruction of the events was meant to take place in February but was delayed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to Ann Van de Steen, the family’s lawyer.

“We hope that there will be no more postponement and that the reconstruction will be the final piece of the investigation because our client fears that everything will be put on the backburner again,” she told Belga news agency.

A crime scene reconstruction involves determining the sequence of events about what occurred during and after a crime and can provide valuable information to the investigation and future prosecution of a case.

Chovanec, a Slovakian national, was removed from a flight to his homeland in February 2018 when he began behaving erratically and was taken into custody in a police cell in Charleroi airport.

There, he began hitting his head against the cell door, and fought with police when they tried to restrain him. At some point, he lost consciousness and was taken to the nearby Marie Curie hospital, where he died later.

An investigation was opened, but according to his widow, Henrieta Chovancová, very little has been done since to make progress in the case.

“The politicians sold a lot of blabber in front of the cameras. Everything would be investigated to the bone, so to speak. Honestly: I don’t believe in it anymore,” she told Het Laatste Nieuws.

Chovancová had previously accused top justice and government officials of attempting to cover up her husband’s death.

After the investigating magistrate had declared an intention of closing the case without action, she later leaked CCTV footage showing the events leading up to the police decision to restrain him, as well as the incident inside the cell itself, clearly showing a heavy-handed police intervention, and one female officer laughing and making a Nazi salute.

At the end of June this year, Belgium‘s interior and justice ministers said that André Desenfants, the second-highest-ranking officer in Belgium’s federal police, would be punished in the ongoing investigation, however, following a challenge in court the punishment was reduced to docking of 10% of his gross salary for two months.

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