Belgium in shock over police brutality footage

Published August 21, 2020
A female officer is seen in the cell dancing and making a Nazi salute as police pin down Jozef Chovanec to stop him from banging his head on the wall, with one sitting down on his chest. — Photo courtesy The Guardian
A female officer is seen in the cell dancing and making a Nazi salute as police pin down Jozef Chovanec to stop him from banging his head on the wall, with one sitting down on his chest. — Photo courtesy The Guardian

BRUSSELS: Belgium was in shock on Thursday after a video emerged showing a Slovak man being violently pinned down by airport police officers in images that recalled the fate of George Floyd in the US.

The CCTV images date to Feb 2018, when Jozef Chovanec was taken off a plane in Charleroi, Belgium, after refusing to show his ticket as he boarded.

Chovanec, who died in the wake of the incident, was taken to a holding cell where he is seen in harrowing footage banging his head against the wall until his face bleeds heavily.

Several police officers are later seen entering the room to handcuff Chovanec. When this fails to calm him, they return to hold him down, with one sitting on his chest for 16 minutes.

During this sequence, a female officer is seen in the cell dancing and making a Nazi salute.

Chovanec was then taken to hospital where he died after entering a coma, officially of a heart attack.

According to her legal team, widow Henrieta Chovancova chose to make the video public against their advice as she had grown frustrated with the investigation, which has dragged on for two years.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2020

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