Innocent man spend 14 months in jail because of ‘judicial negligence’
The state has to pay a compensation to Leanid Tarasenka who was sentenced to five years of jail being innocent. In addition, at present the prosecutor’s office can start legal proceedings against the policeman who had brought the criminal case against the victim.
The criminal case against Tarasenka was brought in December 2003.
‘At that time I was working at the Aktir factory in Barauliany (Minsk district). At 6.30 p.m. on 23 December I drove out of the factory gates by my Volkswagen and saw that three figures came from round the corner. Two of them were nearer and the third one was behind them. To be on the safe side, I started braking. When the last man caught up with the car, he gave it a roundhouse kick with his foot, as in a blockbuster.
The Volkswagen waggled from this blow. The hooligan fell down on the ground. I got out of the car, caught him by the collar and asked why he did it. The hooligan proved to be the local citizen Aniskovich, with whom we had bad relations. He was in the state of shock and couldn’t tell anything. Two his friends, Kudzin and Malabitski, told me: ‘Don’t touch him. You know there is a concavity on the car, he’ll repair it tomorrow.’ I had nothing to do but to get back in my car and drive away.
It seems that the hooligan must have been drawn to account for his criminal behavior. In fact, everything continued in quite a different way.
As a result of kicking the car Aniskovich got a closed fracture of cotyloid and was hospitalized. It seems unbelievable, but several days after the incident a criminal case was brought against Leanid Darasenka, for ‘hooliganism and infliction of severe bodily injures’.
‘Two days after the incident the police came to me. ‘You’ve knocked down a man by your car and then beat him with fists and feet’. They showed me Aniskovich’s complaint that I beat him,’ says. Leanid Tarasenka. ‘Though Aniskovich said it even to the doctor that he fell down on his own. There weren’t any haematomae or wounds on his body. Nevertheless, the criminal case was brought. The investigator of Barauliany district police department said me outright: ‘Take out the weapons you have, we will discriminate in the case’. I asked why he spoke so rudely. Then they put me behind bars. I had to sign the undertaking not to leave.
Nobody listened to me. The case was investigated by the local policemen living in Barauliany. The investigator and Aniskovich’s son were almost peers. They grew up together, while I don’t live in Barauliany. The ‘victim’s’ friends met with me and told me to give 5 000 dollars to put an end to my problems. I refused, because I haven’t made anything criminal and was sure that the court would try the case objectively.’
I shared the cell with cannibals and killers
The ruling that was issued by Minsk district court on 12 May 2004, became a shock for Leanid Tarasenka.
‘I couldn’t see even in the most terrible dream’, recalls Leanid Viktaravich. ‘The judge reads: Tarasenka is found guilty in ‘hooliganism’ and ‘infliction of severe bodily injuries’ and sentenced to five years in high-security prison.’ They handcuffed me, took away my tie, laces and belt and guarded me to the prison in Valadarski Street. I sent a cassation complaint from there. It disappeared and was not considered at all.
Before this case Leanid Tarasenka had no problems with the law. The colleagues call Leanid Tarasenka an exemplary man – he has a higher education, doesn’t smoke or drink and goes in for sport.
‘Then I was imprisoned. It is a different life. I was innocent and was in prison for the first time. I shared the cell with cannibals who killed and tinned people. One of my cellmates was imprisoned for theft of a gas balloon, another – for non-paying alimonies. The cell could house ten people and there were twenty of us in it. All but me smoked. Flees were running on the beds. There wasn’t a single calm day. Provocations were staged all the time. I was getting illegally passed notes, but did not read them. Then I was transferred to another cell, where everybody had tattoos and nicks. They tried to make me speak there as well, but I didn’t tell anything as I was innocent. My hair started turning grey. I lost almost all teeth, now I have dummy ones,’ Leanid desperately shows the teeth. ‘Before the prison I had no illnesses and was jogging. I complained to the prison doctor about the headache, and he answered that the head is a bone and the bone cannot ache. Having spent six months in this prison I was transferred to Navapolatsk colony. One of the officers openly said to me that I could either confess or serve the whole term. I answered that they could tear me up in pieces or kill me, but I didn’t do anything of what I was accused in. Once I was hit by a repeated offender. I also hit him in the eye. As a result he had two black eyes. After this he said: ‘I see you can defend yourself’ and stopped clinging to me.
How one can get the justice restored after unfair trial?
Even in prison Leanid Tarasenka didn’t give up and continued struggling for truth. ‘I wrote complaints to all instances: to the district prosecutor’s office, to the oblast prosecutor’s office and to the office of the prosecutor general. My complaints reached the parliament and the presidential administration. Then there started some progress,’ says Tarasenka.
At first the College board of the Supreme Court on criminal cases reversed the charges in hooliganism. The competent officers of the general procuracy deeply discriminated in the case and started insisting on the second trial. Finally the presidium of the Supreme Court reversed all court rulings and the case was sent for the second trial. This time Minsk district court gave a new accusation to Leanid Tarasenka – ‘infliction of severe bodily injures by inadvertence’. The officer of the prosecutor general was dissatisfied with this turn and the case got to Minsk oblast court.
‘Before this my case was read by two district judges and 15 oblast judges and all of them ruled that I was guilty. Only the eighteenth judge, Dzmitry Yazvinski, discriminated in all circumstances. There were seven court sittings. He called the false victim Aniskovich, the hospital doctor, the medical experts and many other people. After a long trial I was justified. It was found that fracture of cotyloid can’t be caused by beating.
‘The fact that the protocols of the investigative actions contain the same orthographic and grammatical mistakes witnesses that these protocols were composed by copying and pasting fragments of electronic files’, reads the ruling of Minsk oblast court, signed by judge Yazvinski. ‘These circumstances makes the court doubt in the accuracy of the information in the protocols of the investigative activities and the objectiveness of the investigator during the investigation of this criminal case.’
‘It means that 17 judges did their work incompetently, as a result of which I spent so much time suffering in jail,’ says Leanid Tarasenka.
How much money can one get as compensation for illegal imprisonment?
The law provides financial compensation for unlawful imprisonment.
‘The judge Yazvinski sentenced the Ministry of Finances to pay me about 11 million rubles for the harm done. It is the minimal wage that I could receive for these 14 months of illegal imprisonment, and compensation for the legal aid,’ sums up Leanid Tarasenka. ‘Then I counted the moral harm. First of all, my health has been spoilt. There’s another important thing: before the criminal case was brought my elderly mother and I sold our apartment in Vitsebsk oblast and were going to buy an apartment in Minsk. However, for the time of my imprisonment this money lost its value. We have nowhere to live and have to rent apartments. When I summed it all up, it appeared that the state owes to me at least 200 million rubles. But they sentenced I should be paid just 10 million rubles. The treatment of my ill legs alone costs 1.8 million rubles in a good sanatorium, but now I also have hypertension and heart problems. Some people earn 10 million rubles a month. That’s why I consider it humiliating and did not take this money.
I don’t need no state money. Let the investigator and the judges who did their work unscrupulously and the false victims and witnesses who gave false testimonies pay the compensation.
Will criminal proceedings be started against the false victim?
Now Leanid Tarasenka is also going to sue those who deprived him of freedom. ‘If I was imprisoned unlawfully, who is guilty?’ Mr. Tarasenka argues. ‘It is Aniskovich and his friends Kudzin and Malabitski who gave false testimonies. I am also convinced of the necessity to bring to the legal account the investigator of Barauliany district police department who fabricated the case and broke my life.’
At present Minsk district prosecutor’s office is holding a check-up concerning the false testimonies during the investigation.
‘The summonsed people have no wish to come to the prosecutor’s office’, tells the investigator Siarhei Belikau. ‘Only the police officer came immediately. Soon we will decide whether to bring a criminal case.’
By the way, the investigator Dzmitry R., who initiated the criminal proceedings against Leanid Tarasenka, is still working at Barauliany district police department…
On the other hand, the false witness Aniskovich has been already sentenced to pay 400 000 rubles to Leanid Tarasenka for the concavity on the Volkswagen.