The first day of the reconstruction of the facts at Charleroi airport in the context of the Chovanec affair took place Monday morning at Charleroi airport. The reconstitution, which should have taken place in February, took place in a serene climate, said Alexandre Wilmotte, lawyer for two police officers concerned in the case.
Questioned on their arrival, the lawyers of the family of Mr. Chovanec confided to want to discover “the truth”. “Only the truth. We still want to know what is the cause of our client’s death. Its very important. I hope everyone will say what he did“said Ann Van Den Steen, lawyer for the Chovanec family.
Reconstitution on the tarmac this Monday
The reconstruction of the facts, initially scheduled for last February, had been postponed following the measures taken to fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The scene of the police intervention on the tarmac was reconstructed on Monday. Jozef Chovanec had been subdued by the police at the door of the plane following the absence of a ticket to board the aircraft in order to return to his native country. “Obviously, this re-enactment was well organized and prepared. It is important as a lawyer to participate in this reconstruction to soak up the atmosphere of the place at the time of the facts. It is useful for the lawyer to fully understand each other’s position and the tension present that day.“, said Me Wilmotte.
In the cell this Tuesday
The second day of re-enactment, which will take place on Tuesday, will be devoted to the events that occurred inside the cell. Taken to one of the dungeons at the airport, Jozef Chovanec first hits his head forty times against a wall. Bloody and very agitated, he was then firmly controlled by the police. The scene, filmed but without sound, shows that one of the agents immobilizes the individual using his knee for more than 15 minutes.
While Jozef Chovanec is held, hands and feet bound by colsons, a policewoman gives a Nazi salute, others laugh and smile. After several hours of intervention, a doctor, called on the spot, injects the Slovak with a calming product. This second day could be the most important of the reconstruction. “Let’s say that for me things are sufficiently clear. But it is important to contextualize this scene and to feel well what the people who intervened to help Mr Chovanec felt“, emphasized Me Wilmotte.
These police officers intervened to help someone, and certainly not to make their situation worse.
In a report submitted by a college of experts, the mutilations inflicted on Jozef Chovanec would explain the death. During the reconstitution, the police officers present in the cell will have to justify each of their gestures, as disturbing as they are. A moment that some of them dread. “It is very difficult, because in reality these police officers intervened to help someone, and certainly not to make their situation worse, on the contrary. They intervened as quickly as possible and faced as best they could a situation for which they were not trained. You should know that there was still blood everywhere in this cell“, declared this Monday Alexandre Wilmotte, lawyer of two police officers.
Recall of facts
Jozef Chovanec died on February 27, 2018 at Marie Curie Hospital in Charleroi. He had been transferred there following a heart attack that occurred on February 24 at around 5 a.m. This Slovak citizen, seized with delirium, was subdued in a cell at Charleroi airport, where he had tried to board a plane bringing him back to his country. He was subjected to a ventral tackle for long minutes, his head wrapped in a blanket before being injected with a sedative. CCTV footage from the cell shows officers smiling and a policewoman giving a Nazi salute.