10.06.2005 | Svetlana Shekera, Kharkiv

Ukraine will pay for Kharkiv militiamen


Five years have passed between the beating and the decision of the European Court. During 2.5 years citizen Afanasyev strived against the Ukrainian justice. The same time was taken by the correspondence with Strasbourg court and consideration of the case. Aleksey Afanasyev was beaten in March 2000. Militia officers detained the 35-year-old businessman on suspicion of fraud. According to the words of Afanasyev, he was handcuffed and beaten in the Kyivskiy district militia station. Under the pressure of militiamen Afanasyev signed all documents. Three days later accusation was pronounced against him, but he was released after giving a written undertaking not to leave a place. After the militia station Afanasyev got to a hospital. Medics fixed numerous bodily injuries: bruises, contusions and an ear trauma that resulted in partial deafness. The forensic expertise confirmed that the time of infliction of these traumas coincided with the time, when Afanasyev had stayed in the district militia station. A month later, after leaving the hospital, Afanasyev turned to the prosecutor’s office. By words of advocate Arkadiy Bushchenko, his client handed the appeal about institution of a criminal case: he asked to investigate the circumstances of his beating and to punish the guilty. The prosecutor’s office of the Kyivskiy district rejected Afanasyev’s complaint, referring to the «absence of corpus delicti». However, the materials of the case evidence that after Afanasyev’s complaint the militia officers were summoned to the prosecutor’s office for «questioning».

«The militiamen, naturally, told that they were not guilty. Afanasyev, they said, slandered, because he wanted to dodge criminal responsibility for his deeds», tells Bushchenko.

Then «the case of Afanasyev» began to wander from one prosecutor to another, it was opened and it was closed for several times. In fact, investigation of the case was started a year  after the incident, when there remained almost no chances to find some essential proofs. New expertises were conducted. The second expertise did not disclose any bodily injuries. The third one, which was carried out by the experts of the Kyivskiy main bureau of forensic expertises confirmed that the beating had taken place.

«All that lasted for a long time», tells the advocate, «and lasts until now, since I have no information that investigation of this case has been completed and there are some positive or negative results. My client also has no information».

According to his own words, A. Afanasyev turned to the European Court because of hopelessness, when he despaired of court consideration of his case in Ukraine. In September 2002 Aleksey and his advocate handed the complaint to the European Court. The complaint was accompanied with several hundreds of documents. In the complaint sent to Strasbourg Aleksey Afanasyev accused Ukraine of violation of the European Convention on the protection of human rights («cruel treatment of a person staying in custody and absence of efficient methods of legal protection»). Correspondence with the European Court lasted for 2.5 years. Human rights protectors say that it is not too much for such cases.

As a result, the European Court recognized that Afanasyev had been beaten in militia and took the decision about compensation – the so-called «fair indemnification». If the government would not appeal against this decision, then Ukraine would have to pay, within three months, 8 thousand euro (6.5 thousand of compensation and 1.5 thousand of court expenses) to her citizen Aleksey Afanasyev. Human rights protectors are sure that Afanasyev will get this money. There were no cases yet, when Ukrainian government did not execute the decisions of the European Court.

A. Afanasyev is satisfied with the verdict of Strasbourg judges: «Thank God, they punished the country. It would be better to punish the militiamen. Yet, I will not turn anywhere, since I am almost sure that they would not be punished. There are very many cases like mine».

By words of law-enforcers, the decision of the European Court cannot influence the punishment of the guilty. Konstantin Masliy, the head of the service of internal safety of the regional department of the Ministry of Interior, says that if there is prosecutor’s resolution about the refusal to start a criminal case, then his agency cannot conduct any investigations. «I have no right to carry out private investigation», he stated.

«The case of Afanasyev» created a precedent. For the first time a court of such high level acknowledged the application of violence by Ukrainian law-enforcers. By the data of Kharkiv human rights protectors, at least 40 similar complaints are waiting for consideration in the European Court.

Media-group «Objektiv»

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