Laughing cops ‘made Nazi salute’ while sitting on dying man’s ribs
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A man died after he was pinned down in his cell by six laughing police officers in Belgium, one of whom was seen to make what looked like a Nazi salute, an inquest has heard.
Jozef Chovanec, 38, was arrested at an airport in February 2018 after causing a disturbance while boarding a flight to Bratislava.
The Slovakian citizen was taken to a cell in Charleroi where he began banging his head against the wall until he bled.
In response, six officers crowded into his cell and pinned him down, newly published security camera footage shows. One sat on Chovanec's ribs for 16 minutes, Het Laatse Nieuws reports.
The officers involved could be seen laughing "exuberantly" as they held down the prisoner.
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One even began dancing and raised their right arm in a Nazi salute while seeming to mime a moustache.
A blanket was placed over Chovanec's face for some time.
He died in hospital the following day.
His widow says her husband died in similar circumstances to American man George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white police officer in May sparked protests around the world.
"When [the police] saw the blood, they should have given him first aid," she said.
"Instead they sat on him with so many people. He couldn't breathe properly."
She's demanding a new judge be appointed amid fears the case is being covered up.
A spokesperson for Charleroi's public prosecutor, which has been investigating the case for two and half years, told local media the coronavirus pandemic had delayed the case but that all officers involved have been interviewed.
Paul Magnette, mayor of Charleroi, has called for interior minister Pieter De Crem to examine the case.
"I am, like so many people, shocked by the images in the press," he tweeted on Thursday.
"This behaviour is unacceptable. As for the federal police, under the authority of the minister of the interior, I am asking the latter to do everything to shed light on these acts."
Police director general André Desenfants announced the same day that he is stepping down until the investigation is complete.
Meanwhile, the regional newspaper Sudpresse reports that the officer who made the apparent Nazi salute would be fired according to police sources.
Chovanec's family don't know what prompted his strange behaviour at the airport that led to the fatal arrest, as he frequently commuted between Belgium and Slovakia for his job at a recruitment agency.
An autopsy detected no trace of drugs or alcohol in his system.
- Adolf Hitler
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