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19.05.2012

Remembering Ihor Indylo – demands for a proper investigation

   

A meeting in memory of Ihor Indylo, the young student who died in police custody in the early hours of 18 May 2010 led to a meeting with the Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office who assured those present that they were eager to work with them. The representatives of Amnesty International in Ukraine; the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union; the Centre for Human Rights Information and the Regional Initiatives Foundation passed on an appeal, addressed to the Prosecutor General, Viktor Pshonka.

They express concern that the investigation into his death was not carried out efficiently

They explain that on 17 May Ihor had begun celebrating his 20th birthday (a friend from his village was unable to stay until his actual birthday on 18 May – translator).  He was detained just after 8 in the evening.  The police have maintained that he was seriously drunk and picking a fight with the hostel guard.  The video footage of the two young men entering the police station at 20.38 does not indicate any serious degree of inebriation.

They recount that he was interrogated and that at 20.52 an ambulance was called since he was unconscious in the interview room. The police staff did not explain to the ambulance crew why he was unconscious. The doctor who arrived said that Ihor did not react to anything until they touched his head when, they say, he began aggressively trying to defend himself.

When Ihor camee to, the ambulance crew left the station without properly examining him. The CCTV footage shows that at 21.49 police officers dragged Ihor to the cell and left him on the floor. Despite his extremely chaotic movements he was left until 4.51 when he was found dead.

The police officers informed Ihor’s parents of his death, asking them to collect his body. His parents were told that he had choked however they could see the multiple bruises on their son’s body.  The autopsy showed that Ihor Indylo died of a fractured skull and internal haemorrhaging and that the injuries on his body had come from contact with a blunt object.  The officers claimed that he had fallen from a bunk in the cell in a drunken state. The bunk is 50 cm above the floor.

The criminal investigation into Ihor’s death was initiated on 28 May 2010.

At the end of last year, Serhiy Kovalenko was amnestied. He had been charged with “professional negligence without grave consequences” (for not checking the grounds for detaining Ihor Indylo – translator).

On 5 January 2012 Serhiy Prykhodko received a five year suspended sentence for “exceeding official powers accompanied by actions denigrating the personal dignity of the victim”.

However on 14 May the Kyiv Court of Appeal ordered the case to be sent back for further investigation

The appeal states that an effective investigation must answer the following questions:

  1. What caused Ihor to lose consciousness in the interview room?
  2. If Ihor fell on his right side in the interview room, as stated in the testimony of Prykhodko and O. Khomenko (the young man with Ihor – translator), where are the bruises on his left side from?
  3. What really happened in the interview room?
  4. If Ihor was in a state of extreme inebriation, as the police and doctor assert, why was he not hospitalized?
  5. Why was he not given adequate medical assistance in the police station?  Why wasn’t an ambulance called a second time, including when he was in the cell since the video shows that he was in a bad state?
  6. Why were all the events of that night not re-enacted bearing in mind the full video recording? It is important to view and analyze absolutely all recordings since this will help to establish the evens and also demonstrate discrepancies and contradictions in the testimony of witnesses and suspects, as well as their inability to provide answers to certain questions.  It is clear, for example, from the video that doctors arrived at the police station at around 3 a.m. yet they did not come in to see Ihor. The police officers were unable to explain at the court hearings who these doctors were, who had called them and why.
  7. Why did Ihor’s condition change so sharply for the worse when he was placed in the cell? According to the police officers, Ihor was in a state of extreme inebriation. Despite this he freely walked through the turnstile into the police station with his hands in his pockets. Yet in the cell his arms were moving about chaotically.
  8. A large number of questions are elicited by the forensic examination. Why is their no x-ray of the injuries to Ihor’s scalp, and only written notes by the doctor; why was the direction of the fracture not investigated?  This would help explain how he received the injuries.
  9. Why did neither the examination nor the criminal investigation explain where the blood in Ihor’s stomach came from?
  10. Why in the medical doctors is what the doctors did not in fact see recorded, as well as readings that the doctors did not take? For example, the examination protocol of the body is signed by the ambulance doctor, yet from the video footage it is clear that he didn’t even go near Ihor’s body.
  11. How do you explain the numerous contradictions and discrepancies in the testimony of Oleksandr Khomenko, Ihor’s friend who was with him in the police station that night?  Oleksandr even said himself during the hearing “I don’t know which of my witness statements that court should believe”, and that is recorded in the protocol.

The authors remind the Prosecutor General that according to the European Convention on Human Rights, the State is obliged to respect the right to life.  If a person dies in police custody, the onus is on the State to prove that it was not to blame and give a proper explanation of the death.

They urgently call on him to ensure that this time a thorough, unbiased and full investigation into Ihor Indylo’s death is carried out. 

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