Korcok: Slovak Diplomacy Active Regarding Case of Chovanec’s Death

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A doctor checking on Jozef Chovanec in a detention cell at Brussels South Charleroi Airport (photo by TASR/AP)

Bratislava, August 21 (TASR) – Slovak diplomacy has been taking action from the very moment a video capturing brutality committed by Belgian police officers against a Slovak citizen appeared, Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korcok (an SaS nominee) wrote on Facebook on Friday.

“Like the whole Slovak public, I too was shocked by the footage published by the Belgian media and the brutality that Belgian police officers inflicted on our citizen Jozef Chovanec in a cell in 2018,” stated Korcok, adding that his ministry has been taking action in relation to the Belgian authorities in Brussels.

Reacting to the fact that no. 2 Belgian federal police official Andre Desenfants has stepped down over the video, Korcok stated that he views it as a signal that the Belgian authorities are aware of the gravity and urgency of the matter and that “this whole scandalous case will be thoroughly investigated”.

Chovanec died in February 2018 following a tussle with the police at Brussels South Charleroi Airport. According to what has been published in the media, the man crossed a barrier and boarded a plane without authorisation. Police officers removed him the plane and detained him in a cell. The original reports stated that the man hit himself violently several times, forcing the police to intervene again and pacify him. Chovanec subsequently suffered a heart attack and was transported to hospital, where he fell into a coma from which he never recovered.

However, recently published footage from a camera located in the cell indicates that the events that preceded the heart attack were in fact different from what was originally stated. The video shows five police officers sitting and kneeling on the man’s chest. Another makes a Nazi salute, at which the others laugh. The officers knelt on Chovanec for 16 minutes.