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Slovakia protests to Belgium after footage of police mistreating man in custody

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PRAGUE (Reuters) – Slovakia said on Friday it had protested to Belgium after footage appeared of a 2018 incident in which a Slovak businessman appeared to be mistreated and scorned by police who detained him at a Belgian airport.

Video run by Belgian media on Wednesday showed the man bleeding after banging his head against the wall of a police cell. Later it appeared to show an officer kneeling on him, while another raised her hand in what resembled a Nazi salute.

The man, Josef Chovanec, in his late 30s, died in hospital the day after his detention.

“This footage shocked us as well as the entire Slovak society. We resolutely reject … practices. (They) are unacceptable and have no place in democratic society,” , Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok told reporters.

He said a verbal note on the incident was delivered to the Belgian government in Brussels, including complaints about “police brutality”.

A Belgian interior minister spokesman said the images were “shocking” and the ministry had asked the national police to consider disciplinary measures against the officers involved.

The national police said an internal investigation had begun, in addition to a judicial inquiry that was launched after the incident and remains ongoing.

Chovanec was detained after causing a disturbance at Charleroi airport in southern Belgium. He had repeatedly travelled to Belgium on business.

Slovakia protests to Belgium after footage of police mistreating man in custody

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