Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
02.02.2007 | Arkady Bushchenko

SIZO ordered to pay moral damages for not providing medical aid


It is exactly three years since the death in Kyiv’s SIZO [remand or pre-trial detention centre] No. 13 of Olha Belyak

All of this time, Olha’s relatives had been convinced that Olha died because the SIZO Administration callously ignored their duty to care for the health of inmates. On 27 October 2006, almost three years after her death, her relatives received confirmation that there suspicions were justified.

Lawyer Zoya Karpovna Shevchenko who represented them all this time succeeded in convincing the court that Olha Belyak had been denied proper medical aid and in winning compensation for her parents and under-age son.

The civil case was heard in the Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv, resided over by Judge L.O. Volkova, on 27 October 2006.

[the following is a very brief summary of the main points of the civil suit and the court judgment]

The Court established that Olha Belyak had died in SIZO No. 13 on 1 February 2004, having been held there since 22 April 2003.

On 30 April 2004 the prosecutor of the Shevchenkivsky District in Kyiv refused to launch a criminal investigation into her death.

It is believed that she died as the result of the inaction of the medical personnel of SIZO No. 13 who, without any reasonable grounds, denied her medical aid. The medical staff knew that she had a serious illness since an application had been submitted on 26 September 2003 by Olha’s parents asking that she be hospitalized, this not having been heeded.

They also failed to hospitalize her after a sharp decline in her state of health.

The officials of SIZO No. 13 were also guilty of omissions in failing to release Olha Belyak after receiving a resolution from the investigator on 30 January 2004 calling for the preventive measure to be changed from remand in custody to a written undertaking not to abscond.

The investigator of the Shevchenkivsky District  prosecutor’s office, in refusing to launch a criminal investigation, did not take into account the inaction of the  SIZO officials which resulted in Olha Belyak’s death, nor did they establish who had inflicted the bodily injuries she sustained.

It is believed that Olha Belyak, who has had Group 2 disability status since childhood, became the victim of inhuman treatment, as well as unlawful detention, custodial arrest and conviction. She was unwarrantedly held on remand after the revoking of the court’s sentence, and without receiving medical treatment despite a number of illnesses exacerbated by the conditions in the SIZO.

The appellants claimed that the omissions of the officials had caused moral suffering, since on 2 February 2004 Olha Belyak’s parents had been told that their daughter had been realised the previous Friday. Since their daughter did not come home, they tried to find her, with no success, and then received an anonymous phone call telling them to look in the morgue.

The Court partially accepted the claim against SIZO No. 13, and ordered the latter to pay each of the appellants (Olha’s parents and son) 20 thousand UH.

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