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12.09.2008

Harsh criticism of MIA bodies at local level

   

A Kyiv lawyer Oleh Veremiyenko on 10 September circulated an open letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs in which he says that despite positive moves and initiatives from the MIA, there has recently been a negative trend in the work of the police at local level.

In the first place, he alleges, flagrant violations of the law, including the use of torture by police officers at management level (deputy head of a police station, etc) have become more common. He suggests that the MIA seems to have lost control over the situation at local level.

He cites the example of a former officer of the Darnytsa district police station in Kyiv, who he says personally tortured an 18-year-old suspect to extract a confession, beating his head against a concrete wall. The young man involved is Mr Veremiyenko’s client and has been remanded in custody for 18 months while the court examination continues.  He says that it is quite clear that there has been a miscarriage of justice, and that his client is innocent of the murder he is charged with.

He is scathing of the fact that there has been no investigation into the allegations of unlawful treatment of Yevhen Novytsky and nobody has even faced disciplinary charges for beating a confession out of the young man.  On the contrary, the man whom he alleges is responsible has been promoted.

The latter has ignored summonses to appear in court as a witness.

Another example Mr Veremiyenko cites apparently took place in March 2008 in Zhytomyr.  He alleges that a traffic police office and his colleagues beat up a border guard officer Valentyn Kopiychuk, and then poured alcohol over his clothes to get doctors to certify that the man was drunk.  A blood test later, however, showed that he had not been under the influence of alcohol.  Mr Veremiyenko says that the employees of the traffic police produced written statements from fictitious witnesses and passed these to the district court.  He adds that this information can be confirmed by the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Zhytomyr which investigated the case. Apparently in this court Kopiychuk was in his absence found guilty of persistently not obeying police officers under Article 185 of the Code of Administrative Offences.

Until the end of the summer, the internal security service of the MIA and prosecutor’s office for the Zhytomyr region denied that any offences had been committed, however on 28 August the Human Rights Ombudsperson opened proceedings into the case and asked the Prosecutor General and MIA to look into Mr Veremiyenko also complains that cases of flagrant interference in the work of lawyers has become more frequent (though unauthorized tapping of mobile phones, etc), as well as the use by police officers under investigation of threats, including of physical reprisals,  against witnesses or people alleging that they were tortured.

He cites the example of violence against two construction workers (Vorodai and Peresta) by Kyiv Railway Station police officers. After a press conference on 15 August about this outrageous case in which the two victims were shot out with rubber bullets, Mr Veremiyenko lodged complaints on the men’s behalf. He says that after this he and relatives become receiving phone calls, and his phone was tapped. Then on 4-5 September one of the two victims began getting telephone calls demanding that he withdraw his statement, or else he will have health problems.

Mr Veremiyenko believes that these cases demonstrate that the situation with discipline and lawfulness in police officers’ work is unsatisfactory.  He asserts that radical measures are needed, a strict and principled stand from the Minister and Central Department regarding everything concerning effective, full and swift investigation of such cases.  There must be punishment of police officers who use torture and degrading treatment  in their work. He says that this should include dismissal, as well as disciplinary measures. and that it is only this way that the police can rid themselves of the bad elements in their ranks.

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