Charleroi arrest: images surfaced on day of fatal incident

Charleroi arrest: images surfaced on day of fatal incident
Credit: Belga

High ranking officials were aware of images of a fatal arrest at Charleroi airport over two years ago, despite the incident only coming to light now, new testimony has found.

The arrest involved Slovak national Jozef Chovanec, who died after a heavy-handed intervention by police. The arrest became known to the public after images of the arrest surfaced in August 2020, two and a half years after the fatal incident.

The public prosecutor's office seized the images from the surveillance cameras on the same day, Het Laatste Nieuws wrote based on a second, more detailed police report of the incident.

“So those images were added to the file from the beginning,” said Ann Van De Steen, the lawyer of Chovanec’s widow. “So they could have been analysed,” she said.

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The first report that the aeronautical police of Charleroi wrote on 23 February 2018 at 7:10 PM, about the incident in which Chovanec died, was incomplete. However, a second report, written barely an hour after the first, has now surfaced.

The second report is twice as long and shows the number of beers ingested by Chovanec and the way in which five officers subdued him on his bed in his cell.

However, there is no mention of a female police officer giving a Hitler salute or a blanket wrapped around Chovanec, two things that can be seen in the images of the arrest.

"Why are there two versions and why write this short report first and only then go into detail," Van De Steen wondered. "Only the first version will have been sent to the office of then-Minister (of the Interior, Jan) Jambon. There is nothing in the file to indicate that the second draft was also sent.”

Jambon appeared before the House Interior and Justice Committees on Tuesday to defend himself after his successor Pieter De Crem told the Committees that Jambon and the federal police were aware of the incident.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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