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01.09.2008

Search and search again until you “find” something

   

The title would seem to be the principle police officers followed in making a case involving Mr Zakharkin.  In 2003, while Zakharkin was stopped by police, supposedly on suspicion of involvement in a flat burglary, while in his own car, together with passengers.  A protocol drawn up at the time confirms that nothing suspicious was found when he was searched. Another search was made later in the day, with the protocol again confirming that nothing was found.

However, on the instructions of the head of the criminal investigation department Mr Andriychuk, a third search was carried out, which – lo and behold! – “found” some marihuana wrapped in tin foil. According to the report made by the prosecutor’s office, Andriychuk resorted to force to get Zakharkin to state that the marihuana was his, this including physical blows and kicks.

The ill-treatment worked, Zakharkin “admitted” owning the drug and was fined 306 UAH by an administrative court.

However, the story did not end there. Another head of the criminal investigation department for the Ivano-Frankivsk region, Mykhailiv, decided that there was no need for haste in releasing Zakharkin and gave an order for him to be detained again.  This time he was “convinced”, with the same methods, that he was also a thief.

The methods applied included putting handcuffs on him and hanging him upside down from a metal bar or putting a gas mask on him and stopping him from breathing.

To the police’s chagrin he did not confess, but instead tried to commit suicide. He asked to go to the toilet, where he managed to rip the skin on his elbow, pull out a vein and bite. He almost died.

During the criminal investigation that ensued, he was declared a victim. In the court, around 10 witnesses gave testimony and the circumstances of the event were re-enacted.

Charges were brought against those believed responsible however this was where the matter effectively ended, although the case has supposedly been under examination for the last four years. There are a whole range of reasons from illness of one of the parties to the case being sent back for further examination.

Mr Zakharkin is now abroad, for understandable reasons wishing to stay well away from such “protectors of public order”.  And those guilty of such an outrage have still not been convicted.

Based on a text by Marina Hovorukhina at www.helsinki.org.ua

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