Investigative nonsense: Shoes taken off barefooted body

2014 2014-12-19T12:00:39+0300 2014-12-19T15:20:39+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The recent decision on the results of another probe in connection with the death of Aliaksandr Akulich in Svetlahorsk detention center demonstrates unacceptable negligence of investigator Viachaslau Petachenka.

On December 3, senior investigator Viachaslau Petachenka of the Svetlahorsk District Department of the Investigative Committee issued another decision not to open a criminal investigation into the death of Aliaksandr Akulich in the detention center of the Svetlahorsk police department. The probe was conducted after the Svetlahorsk District Court upheld an appeal by Aliaksandr Akulich’s mother against an earlier decision to refuse to initiate criminal proceedings against the police department of Svetlahorsk.

Despite the fact that Judge Iryna Aliseika gave a principled assessment of the shortcomings in the investigation, investigator Petachenka failed to make proper conclusions and again ignored the essence of the matter. Repeated interviews with police officers Stseshankou and Bachko revealed previously unknown information that failed to be properly assessed by the investigator.

The first absurdity about the decision of Viachaslau Petachenka, in the opinion of human rights defenders, deserves special attention. This is the question of how bruises appeared on the feet of the deceased. (Foot whipping is known as one of the most popular methods of torture and inhuman treatment: as a result prisoners cannot walk). Obviously, the investigator believed the “convincing” arguments of police officers in this regard. The decision repeatedly mentions that these injuries were received after Aliaksander Akulich bumped his bare feet against a variety of surfaces. However, both the police officers and investigator Petachenka should not have been carried away by this version: it is refuted by the case file. It features an expert opinion (of May 26, 2012), which indicates that the outer-mortem examination of Aliaksander Akulich’s body began with removing, among other things, “black leatherette shoes from his bare feet”.

Human rights activists of the HRC “Viasna”, who have been providing legal assistance to the mother of the deceased, Valiantsina Akulich, say the decision of Viachaslau Petachenka provides no answers to other questions about the actions of the police officers, which were to be clarified during the probe.

Why did not police officers Stseshankou and Bachko, contrary to the requirements of para. 76 of the Internal Regulations of Special Institutions of the Interior Performing an Administrative penalty in the Form of Arrest, call an ambulance when Akulich was still in the cell and did not interfere with the performance of their duties (meanwhile, Stseshankou did not deny that the signs of the disease were obvious and consistent with alcoholic psychosis known to them)?

Why did the police officers decide to bring Aliaksandr Akulich in the interrogation room, apparently intended for investigation, but not for medical care?

How was Akulich’s aggressive behavior manifested? According to human rights defenders, without explanation, the assertion of aggressive behavior looks like a phrasebook stamp, which can be used without sufficient reason by both the police officers and the investigator himself in order to artificially justify the validity of ill-treatment of the detainee.

How can handcuffing to a metal lattice – a hard uneven surface – prevent inflicting injuries to oneself by a person not aware of his own actions, since subsequent events clearly showed that such a decision was deeply flawed? And what instructions require such a method of immobilization of the sick person, and does the use of handcuffs intended to convoy prisoners meet these instructions?

Referring to the Law on the Bodies of Internal Affairs, human rights activists insist that “in all cases, when it is impossible to avoid the use of physical force, special means, weapons, military and special equipment, an employee of the Interior must strive to cause the least harm to the life, health, honor, dignity and property of citizens, and to take immediate measures to provide the victims with medical and other necessary assistance”.

The actions of employees Stseshankou and Bachko of the Svetlahorsk police department are clearly regarded as an act of prohibited cruel and inhuman treatment.

With assistance from the HRC “Viasna”, Valiantsina Akulich sent a complaint to the Svetlahorsk District Prosecutor against the decision of investigator Viachaslau Petachenka to refuse to institute criminal proceedings. The complaint puts all of the above questions, and states that “the investigator still did not take into account that some of investigative activities, in particular the elimination of contradictions in the testimony of witnesses, are impossible within the framework of a probe, but are only possible as part of a criminal case, including a face-to-face interrogation”. In addition, the prosecutor is asked to launch investigative experiments, which, in particular, will allow to establish whether the injuries were caused by contact with objects in the detention center.