Svetlahorsk resident seeks prosecution of policemen responsible for her son’s death
After a year of fruitless appeals submitted to various authorities, Mrs. Valiantsina Akulich came for help to the Human Rights Center "Viasna". After consulting Viasna’s lawyers, she sent to the prosecutor of Svetlahorsk district a complaint against the order of Senior Investigator at Svetlahorsk regional department of the Investigative Committee Uladzimir Piatochanka who refused to open a criminal investigation into the death of her son, Aliaksandr Akulich.
Mrs. Akulich told the human rights defenders that her son died at the hands of police officers on May 26, 2012 in the detention center of Svetlahorsk police department. It happened on the fourth of five days Aliaksandr Akulich spent in the detention center.
“My son was drinking, and we wanted to put him in a medical labor dispensary for some treatment. On May 22, I phoned the district police officer and asked for instructions in order to place him in the detention center, so that he may quit that booze. He replied: dial 102, they will come and collect him. So I phoned them. And he was taken to the detention center for five days. On the fourth day he fell ill, but the employees refused to call for an ambulance. Although the inmates asked them to call for an ambulance, because he was too bad. When he started running around the cell, he was taken out; they made him a "swallow", fastened his handcuffs to the bars and started beating him. Moreover, surveillance cameras recorded only to the point where he was taken out of the cell, and when they began to beat him - there was a "break." He received 18 blows. When he started to have seizures and his breathing was interrupted, they put him on the floor and called for an ambulance. When the doctors came he was already dead,” says Valiantsina Akulich.
She was told about the death of her son only the next morning on the phone. When Valiantsina came to the morgue, they refused to show the body of her son, they just told to bring his clothes, “But I wanted to see the body, because I did not believe my ears. He was not sick and he did not complain of anything, he only had the flu. However, he used to drink. But I was not let inside the morgue.”
Mother could only see the body of her son when they brought him home. “I saw that he was covered with bruises, all cut up, both his hands and feet, his face was black. I called 102 and said, “You, murderers! You killed my son, I will not believe that he just died. Then two police officers came to me, I asked them to take a photo of the body, but they refused. The next day I called my friend, she brought a camera and we took the pictures. The same evening I wrote a statement.” In her statement, Valiantsina Akulich requested a check on the death of her son, and about the appearance of numerous injuries on his body.
The materials of the check refer to the results of a forensic examination, “The examination of the corpse revealed the following injuries: multiple bruises on the scalp, face, in the area of the right shoulder joint, the elbow, wrist joints, the left leg, beneath the mucous of the vestibule of the mouth (upper lip). The bruises on the back of the chest emerged from a blunt solid object like a baton or a stick. All of the enumerated injuries resulted from the action of blunt solid objects shortly before death (during 24 hours) and belong to minor bodily injuries, not having a cause-and-effect relationship with the death. Formation of the complex injuries as a result of falling on a flat surface is excluded because multiple injuries were located in different anatomic areas and cavities of the body.”
Mrs. Akulich said that after the funeral she had a conversation with the medical examiner Mikalai Haliuzau, “I am very sorry that I did not take with me a witness or a tape recorder to record his words. Because now I can’t prove it. He told me that my son was severely beaten, that the results of the examination of his internal organs were sent to Homel, but when they received an answer, a criminal case would be dismissed. He promised to help me with finding a good lawyer and told to write a complaint. But, apparently, the police talked to him, because when I came to him again, he would not even talk to me.”
In his decision not to institute criminal proceedings, investigator Piatochanka tells Valiantsina Akulich that the need for the use of physical force and special means against her son was caused by the fact that he "behaved aggressively, resisted the policemen, failed to obey their legitimate demands.” “The actions of the police officers Stsiashenkau and Bachko, who were on duty, comply with the Law of Belarus "On the Bodies of Internal Affairs" and were within the limits of their powers. In this regard, there are no grounds for a criminal case,” said the investigator of the Investigative Committee.
Valiantsina Akulich believes that the inquiry into the death of her son lacked thoroughness and needed to be supplemented, therefore the decision of Senior Investigator Uladzimir Piatochanka of Svetlahorsk district department of the Investigative Committee is premature and should be repealed. This is reported in her complaint to the Prosecutor of Svetlahorsk district, “The findings of the investigator about the legality of the use of physical force and special means by the employees of the detention center are erroneous because Aliaksandr Akulich needed medical treatment, acting in the state of a disease, instead of showing resistance or disobedience as an act of volition. It is clear that this fact should have been obvious to Stsiashenkau and Bachko. However, these employees, instead of providing timely medical care or calling for a doctor, just beat the person with a temporary mental disorder for half an hour (from 00.30, according to the log of using physical force and special means, till the time an ambulance was called at 01.05). Is not it obvious that for a person in such a state blows with a rubber truncheon may not be the means of prevention? The only question in this case is yet to explore - it's the question of how could timely medical help change the course of the disease and save the life of Aliaksandr Akulich.
This issue has so far been groundlessly outside the attention of the persons who conducted the check, while the actions of the detention center employees were not evaluated in terms of timeliness of medical care received by Aliaksandr Akulich, but received formal and therefore incorrect assessment from the point of view of compliance with the law in the application of physical force and special means.
In her complaint, Valiantsina insists on additional forensic examination to be followed by a decision on bringing the perpetrators to justice. "Why did they beat him? After all, a person is sick, he had to receive treatment instead. I have repeatedly requested to call witnesses who at the time were in the cell together with my son, but they called me, while these people are being intimidated. They told me that they were threatened with the same as my son,” says Mrs. Akulich.
According to the woman, her son’s case is not the first instance of police-related violence in Svetlahorsk police department.