There is currently no evidence that the death of the arrested Jozef Chovanec in Charleroi was caused by police action. This has been made public by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgium, which is investigating the case.
The 38-year-old Slovak Chovanec died in a police cell after he was arrested at Charleroi airport. This happened in 2018, but the case was in the news last month when video footage turned up from the cell.
The video showed Chovanec banging his head against the door to bleeding, after which officers came in to calm him down. Among other things, they pressed a cloth over his head and one of the officers sat on top of him for more than fifteen minutes.
The fuss that arose last month was all the bigger because one of the officers made a Hitler salute as a joke. She later said that the Slovak had called them fascists. The case recently led to the transfer of two senior police officers. The Flemish Prime Minister Jambon was also embarrassed by the matter.
“The madness of the day
The investigation into the cause of death has not yet been completed, but the public prosecutor’s office in Bergen has now seen reason to provide some clarity. “Contrary to what may be claimed, at this stage of the investigation it does not appear to be proven that the actions of the police officers were the direct cause of the victim’s death”, the statement states. No indication is given as to what the cause of death would have been.
Once the investigation has been completed, the Public Prosecution Service will decide whether to prosecute the agents involved. In any case, Chovanec’s widow’s lawyer has no confidence in this. She calls the public prosecutor’s press statement at VRT Nieuws “the madness of the day”.