Police officers who abducted three Ukrainians still not punished
At a press conference on Wednesday, 21 April, human rights defenders reported on the return of the three Ukrainians, residents of the village of Samiylivka in the Odessa region who spent nine months in the Grygoriopol SIZO [remand unit] in Trans-Dniester after being effectively abducted by police officers from their local police station and taken, without their passports, across the border. The men were suspected, with seriously weak grounds, of having committed a crime there.
The three men - Ihor Koval, Roman Hotko and Yury Bondarenko – were held in the SIZO from the end of July 2009, and subjected to torture, before finally being released a few weeks ago. They clearly feel that those responsible should be held to answer.
So why haven’t they been?
As reported, the Ministry of Internal Affairs did acknowledge that the police officers had broken the law, took disciplinary measures and passed the case to the Prosecutor’s Office.
A criminal investigation was initiated and taken under the control of the Prosecutor General, at which point everything died. Neither the men, nor human rights groups trying to help them have been given any information about the investigation’s progress.
Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group:
“This appalling case of human rights abuse must be thoroughly investigated. We effectively have two cases of torture, unlawful remand in custody and punishment without guilt by a court in the self-proclaimed Trans-Dniester republic. This was abetted by Ukrainian police offices who broke all the rules. We need to analyze other cases of such “cooperation between Ukrainian and Trans-Dniester law enforcement officers”.