Belgian government has known about the case of deceased detainee for some time

The Belgian government had been aware for some time of the death of a Slovakian man, who died after he had been harassed by eight police officers. The current Minister of the Interior, De Crem, says that his predecessor even had a conversation about it with the Slovakian embassy. That predecessor, Jan Jambon of the largest Flemish party N-VA, denied that even before.

The case revolves around the death of 38-year-old Slovakian building contractor Jozef Chovanec. He was arrested more than two years ago at Charleroi airport after he was unable to show a boarding pass for the plane.

Hitler salute

In the cell he injured himself, after which eight policemen hold him down with a heavy hand. One of them sits on Chovanec’s body for minutes, another brings the Hitler salute. Images of the incident leaked out last week and caused a lot of commotion in Belgium.

Today the Ministers of Justice Geens and De Crem of Home Affairs were heard in parliament about the case. De Crem says that he himself knew nothing about the case, but that the top of the federal police knew about it, just like former Minister of Justice Jambon.


Jambon is now prime minister of Flanders and last week on the TV channel VTM denied that he had been informed about the case. “To my level, there’s never been, not a single, no sign of it.” Today he promises to come to the Belgian parliament for further explanation.