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05.01.2013

No victims, no video footage – or so the police claim

   

Over recent months there have been protests throughout Ukraine in support of Dmytro and Serhiy Pavlichenko, a father and son convicted of the killing in 2011 of a Kyiv judge, Serhiy Zubkov.  The prosecution claimed that this was because the judge had ordered their eviction over a property dispute.  Those who believe the men to have been wrongly prosecuted are calling for a new investigation.

The Kharkiv Internet site MediaPort reports that between 400 and a thousand football fans and members of national organizations took part in a protest march from the football stadium to the Regional Police Department in support of the convicted Pavlichenkos.  They called for the men’s release and, MediaPort says, “provoked the police, shouting abuse at the officers, throwing snowballs and firecrackers at them”.  

The police did not respond until the protesters reached the Regional Police Department and announced the end of the march. Then the police went on the offensive.  During that evening 22 people were detained. Some were beaten up by the police. A MediaPort film crew took pictures of a pool of blood in the foyer of the regional department building. Journalists also saw one of the fans being kicked by police officers.

On 21 December MediaPort sent a formal information request to the Regional Police Department  They asked to see the CCTV footage from the cameras at the entrance and in the foyer, and also asked about the results of an official check into allegations that the police had beaten detainees. They asked what had happened to the detainees who did not appear in court the next day.

The response claims that the footage on 13 December “for reasons of a technical nature” was automatically deleted.

The journalists’ question regarding whether such footage should be held for a certain amount of time received no response.

As far as the official check was concerned, the police response was categorical.  Nobody had complained of any police brutality; no official check had been carried out; and no police officers had been suspended.

No official statements – no checks.  This is despite the fact that there were numerous accounts in the media alleging that the police beat detainees.

MediaPort turned to the Head of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Yevhen Zakharov with the question, should the police investigate allegations reported in the media.  He answered that yes, both the police and the Prosecutor’s Office are obliged by law to do so.  That, at least, is the theory.  In practice, he says, they do so only if there’s an order from above.

The Kharkiv Prosecutor’s Office told MediaPort that the relevant Prosecutor’s Office had carried out a check into one report.  They promised to provide the details later.  They have also been promised an answer to questions about a check by the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office next week.

Of the 22 detained, 16 of them appeared in court on 14 December, receiving warnings; fines; or up to 15 days imprisonment. Five appeared in court later: one was jailed; two fined (small amounts) and two got off with warnings. The case regarding one person has still not been examined. 

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