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24.06.2010

Will the families of those who died in police custody find out the truth?

   

There are more and more reports of detainees dying in police custody. Human rights activists warn that their relatives are unable to uphold their right to objective and independent investigation.

They cite the example of 25-year-old Dmytro Yashchuk who supposedly hanged himself on 13 June in the Sviatoshynsky District Police Station in Kyiv. He had been detained on suspicion of holding a small amount of drugs not to sell.  His relatives have had their demand for a criminal investigation turned down and have not been allowed access to the material of the case. The police deny this, and assert that he committed suicide. His brother says that Dmytro had undergone a course against drug addiction, and believes that the police were responsible for his brother’s death. He says that the police claim there is video footage showing his brother kill himself, but questions its authenticity since when they were told of Dmytro’s death, nothing was said of any video. He says their father’s request to be shown the video, with the time and date of the recording was turned down. They have not been allowed to see Dmytro’s body in the presence of police and independent experts. He also alleges that his mother was visited by officers from the police station who offered to pay for a cemetery place and restaurant for the funeral wake in return for silence. He also says that the police are putting pressure on him and threatening him. He says that all the telephones were switched off in their flat, and that in the last few days he was almost knocked down while on the pavement. The police deny such accusations.

The Head of the Kyiv Police Press Service Volodymyr Polishchuk says that Dmytro’s relatives and human rights activists have asked to be shown the video, and that a showing will take place in the next few days.  He says that it is the Prosecutor who must initiate a criminal investigation, but that the latter has not done so, since he did not see elements of a crime. Polishchuk claims that the publicity is PR by political and civic organizations.

On the other hand, Yevhen Zakharov from KHPG considers that the situation demonstrates that people whose relatives have died in police custody are not able to uphold their right to an objective investigation and justice. He says that he met with Dmytro’s family and told them that they should not agree to bury him until a forensic examination has been undertaken. He says that there has been an extraordinary increase in the number of suicides in Ukrainian police stations since Independence. He adds that in the last week information became available of five supposed suicides.

The police have officially confirmed three deaths in police stations. As reported here, another person died immediately after being released from custody and another ended up in emergency care.

From a report by Yevhen Solonyna at :  http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/2080739.html

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