Human rights defenders petition President to demand unbiased assessment of police-related violence case
The private cultural and educational institution “Platforma Innovation” addressed President Aliaksandr Lukashenka with an open letter, demanding an unbiased and fair investigation into the case of alleged beating a guard of a Minsk-based parking lot Vasil Sarochyk by policemen, the BelaPAN news agency reports.
The open letter by the human rights defenders came after charges against employees of Leninski district police department of Minsk, suspected of beating Sarochyk, were dropped.
“We believe that in the absence of adequate response by the police to the beating of Vasil Sarochyk it is the President who is obliged to secure the exercise of law towards a citizen of the Republic of Belarus and the punishment of those involved in the torture,” says the letter to Lukashenka.
The authors note that the criminal case is detrimental not only to the reputation of law enforcement agencies, but to the head of state himself. With reference to the articles of the Constitution that guarantee the State’s protection of freedom, integrity and dignity of individuals and the evidence in favor of the guard’s testimony, “Platforma Innovation” asks Lukashenka “help bring the criminal charges for beating Mr. Sarochyk by police officers to court.”
The incident occurred on November 14, 2012. According to Sarochyk, he, not being under investigation, for about six hours suffered torture and beatings from employees of Leninski district police department, who thus tried to force him to confess to a crime he did not commit.
The beaten watchman filed a complaint with the Prosecutor's Office, who sent the case file to Leninski district department of the Investigative Committee. Then the case was investigated by the Investigative Committee’s Minsk office. On 13 December, it was announced that four officials of Leninski district police department of Minsk were named suspects of a crime under Par. 3 Art. 426 of the Criminal Code (“abuse of power or authority committed by an official, which is clearly beyond the scope of the rights and powers granted by the service”). In late December, the case was dismissed.
At a press conference on 15 January, Lukashenka said he was first worried by Sarochyk’s case; he instructed his aide Natallia Piatkevich to inform about it in detail. “They began to see to it, and I was informed immediately, the same day that they said he was beaten by a woman. But if a man is beaten by a woman, I have no interest in the subject,” said Lukashenka.
Andrei Bondarenka, leader of “Platforma Innovation”, said the human rights defenders were “outraged by the President’s statement.”
“It was decided to address Lukashenka again, as the guarantor of the Constitution, with a request to investigate the facts of beating and punish the people who tortured Sarochyk. Our goal is not so much to draw public attention, but to make the President of Belarus implement his responsibilities. He, as the guarantor of the Constitution, should not allow such statements: it does not matter who uses torture, male or female, the main thing is that the fact of torture took place,” stressed the human rights defender.