“He appeared confused, not at all aggressive”

Eyewitnesses have come forward to provide more information about how Slovakian businessman Jozef Chovanec was removed from a flight at Charleroi Airport.  The businessman later died after a violent episode in police custody.

Several people on the plane say that Mr Chovanec (pictured top) seemed confused but wasn’t acting in an aggressive fashion.  Police detained the 38-year-old after he failed to volunteer his boarding card. Mr Chovanec died over two years ago, but images showing his rough treatment by Belgian airport police have just surfaced.

One witness told VRT: “He was sitting in the first row or had probably just sat down there.  The stewardess requested his boarding card.  He appeared unable to show it” says Roman Behúl (pictured below). “At the start he failed to respond.”

The plane was ready for take-off, but the passenger couldn’t or wouldn’t produce a valid boarding card.  The police were called in.

“My impression was he couldn’t communicate” says Roman Behúl.  “He didn’t answer.  Just said he had a right to his seat and wouldn’t get off.”

Mr Chovanec was then taken off the plane: “They took him along, but he wasn’t aggressive.  He didn’t refuse to go along with them.  He didn’t resist” said Roman Behúl.

Pictures of the incident also give the impression members of the emergency services didn’t take the matter seriously.  The words on the soundtrack of the footage have been transcribed in the judicial dossier that was seen by a lawyer. The dossier reveals that at least one ambulanceman made an inappropriate comment.  He reportedly said that Mr Chovanec didn’t deserve to be reanimated and that it wouldn’t be much of a loss if he died. The comments have been confirmed by the lawyer acting for Mr Chovanec’s widow.

“My client had seen the images without sound.  The judicial dossier states the hurtful words spoken.  You can imagine that my client is now in an even greater shock.  If you have to read with which disdain he was treated.  The attitude of all these people in the police cell at that time.  It is dreadful and inhuman” says Ann Van de Steen.

Top stories