15.03.2004 | Inna Sukhorukova, Kharkov

Epidemic of torture and cruel treatment during inquiry and investigation


The newspaper “Fakty”, which usually tries not to conflict with the power, published a very important article. The article describes the recent events in Chernivtsy connected with torture in militia. The TV channel “1+1” also told this story to its viewers. We were waiting for a long time that the power would attend to this case, on which not only the authority of the Ukrainian power among its citizens depends, but also the image of our country on the international level. Now, at last, the TV channels and great newspapers started to elucidate the problem of torture. It is very good, since everybody knows that torture and cruel treatment during inquiry and investigation are widespread in our country as an epidemic. And this epidemic endangers the Ukrainian power, not only abroad, but also inside the country. Who wants to have the almost uncontrolled force structures, which can do what they want without any consequences? It seems that this impunity is caused by our total legal nihilism, practiced not only by the force structures, but also by the common citizens.

Here is one strange example. My acquaintances from a small town near Donetsk told me the following story. Some minors stole a bicycle from their neighbor. The man did not go to militia, because, he said, firstly, nobody would do anything free of charge, and, secondly, the case would be closed all the same, if the parents of the minors would pay more. He guessed who could steal his property, so he decided to act by himself. He caught the minor, whom he suspected, shackled the boy in the garage and began… No, he was not so “professional” as Chernivtsy militiamen! The man merely beat the boy with a rake handle. The man did not hang the boy on his handcuffed wrists, like it is frequently done in militia, he did not try to thrust a baton into his victim’s anus, and did not injure the boy’s internal.

During the beating the man asked: who were the thieves and where his property was. The man frightened the boy that nobody knew where he was, and nobody would hear his cries and find him. The boy was really guilty, and he confessed. Yet, he did not want to say, who possessed the money obtained for the sold bicycle. Then the man decided to continue the “interrogation” on the next day and went home. Yet, his wife either felt sorry for the boy or knew the criminal code better, so, she released the prisoner.

Naturally, the parents of the minor did not turn to militia or court. However, if they would turn, then the state of the owner of the stolen property would be much worse than the state of the young offenders. The boy was ill for two weeks, and his parents called doctor to him, lying that he had scuffled with some strangers. The fighter for justice committed the crimes stipulated by Articles 127 “Application of torture”, 146 “Illegal deprivation of liberty” and 122 “Intentional infliction of body injuries of medium degree”. Part 1 of Article 127 envisages the incarceration for the term up to 5 years, but, in contrast to the similar norms of other countries, this article does not mention that it concerns only the official persons. So, the man should be brought to responsibility. By the way, the heroes of the material published in the newspaper “Fakty” should be condemned to the imprisonment for the term from 5 to 10 years, according to part 2 Article 127.

So, for what the group of the so-called “uniformed criminals” were tried in Chernivtsy? They, so to speak, exceeded their service authorities. Yet, it is an understatement. Where it is written that militiamen have the right to thrust a baton into the anus, or even to beat the detained? About which service authorities one can say, if the militiamen brutally tortured their victim for hours? Oh, they bought a flat to the man mutilated by them! Oh, he asked not to punish them severely! All this resembles a kindergarten!

The service authorities were exceeded by those, who detained an investigating officer of a prosecutor’s office, or by those, who did not admit a witness to courtroom. And the actions of the militiamen from Chernivtsy are mentioned in Article 127 “Application of torture”.

There is nothing more disgusting and awful than the cruel treatment of a helpless person. It is interesting, whether the militiamen understand that they committed a deadly sin? Maybe they are atheists? Maybe. But even an atheist must understand that it is inadmissible to exceed the moral limits.

Judging from the story about the bicycle, our morals are not very exigent. That is why it is extremely important to punish everybody, who violates the laws. I also reckon that exceeding the authority must be regarded as an administrative, not a criminal offence. And only official persons should be the subjects of the crime “torture and cruel treatment”.

However, it is good anyway that the power stopped to dissemble this terrible disgrace and began to fight with it, although not very adequately. I hope that it is not just another campaign!

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