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Sentences for Show?

12.11.2013

  Yury Shershen reports that at virtually the same time the Kharkiv and Kharkiv regional prosecutors have reported sentences handed down on police officers allegedly guilty of crimes.  He notes however that the crimes they have been convicted of are those which take place on a day-to-day basis in the police.

A police officer was charged with abuse of official position and of faking official documentation to protect a thief.  This was in connection with a house burglary in 2011 where stolen goods were removed from two flats, with the search of one taking place without witnesses.  In the end the records were fiddled so that all goods were reported to have been found in one flat.  In the end only one of the two people was prosecuted.  The police officer has been fired, and now, if the sentence is upheld at appeal level, he faces 5.5 years imprisonment.

In the other case a police officer has been sentenced to 5 years for taking a bribe on 800 USD.  The money taken by a CID officer in a regional police office was for not registering a report against the person giving the fine in the Register of Pre-Trial Investigations.

Yury Shershen from the Department of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors of Law Enforcement notes that in both cases the prosecutor’s office has stated that they will be demanding even harsher sentences. The prosecutions come at a time when the prosecutor stubbornly refuses to notice the use of torture to extract confessions, taking money for “protecting” business; pimping and more.

Shershen spoke with a number of people with experience of police work.  They gave their assessment on condition of anonymity. The pessimists, he says, believe that the prosecutor simply needs such statistics for uncovered crimes; realists believe that there is some kind of process underway for restraining Kharkiv cops. There are also optimists who say this is the start of a cleanup.

Unfortunately he doesn’t let on which of the three groups were in the majority. 

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