war crimes in Ukraine

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How to defend from authorities’ slander

13.12.2002    source: Newspaper ’Hryvna’, No. 46, 8-15 November 2001
Elena Medvedeva, Kherson
It is told how a citizen K. was arrested for a crime he had never committed, what kinds of pressure were applied to him and his advocate, and how some militia officers were punished for this after all.
Similar situations happen rather frequently, although people, who suffered from misuse of power by an official, require requital. Plainly speaking, they do not want to get involved. They are afraid to be persecuted, to waste their time and nerves. They do not believe in the force of law, only in the law of force. So, accordingly, some militia officers share this opinion. As in the case to be described.

On 12 September 2001 a citizen K. was detained by militiamen of a Kherson district precinct being suspected of a crime – theft of personal property (Articles 140 part 2 and 208 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The reason of the detainment was the evidence of minor B., who asserted that he together with K. burgled into a countryside house last summer. It must be mentioned that the minor would get a substantially weaker punishment if the theft was committed with a grownup accomplice. How the was theft committed and what was the role of K. (a businessmen and a respectful father of a family) the witness could not tell.

On 15 September the district court chose as a preventive measure for K. a signed promise not to leave the town. Yet, somebody found the court decision too liberal. So, the decision was somewhat corrected.

When K. returned home after the court session, some uniformed guests visited him. They took him to another district precinct under the pretext of signing the promise. There, by the order of an investigating officer, he was detained again for the same crime.

For three days the relatives of the detained did not know where he was. For three days his advocate scanned the town in search of his client.

Meanwhile K. underwent some adventures resembling a detective thriller. I will disappoint lovers of bloody details: K. was not beaten. Yet, there was enough of moral pressure. To begin with, he was placed to the same cell with a murderer, then the interrogations began. Well-tried methods were applied: threats; persuasions; promises to release him, if he denounces his advocate; lies that his advocate took the money and disappeared leaving his client to the mercy of fate; propositions to take another advocate and so on, and so forth.

Within K.’s cell they pressed upon him as well. From the adjoining cell he heard the cries: ’Do not beat me! I’ll sign all!’ These cries, in the opinion of militiamen, had to stimulate K. for ’correct’ actions. Yet, K. remained adamant! He did not give evidence either against himself or his advocate. K. was released after three days; his case will, most probable, be closed.

At this point one could sigh with relief and say: ’Thank God, all passed!’ and to forget all this horror as soon as possible. However, our hero and his advocate decided to restore justice. The sent complaints to prosecutors of the both districts, to the oblast prosecutor and to the oblast militia head about the violation of Articles 371 and 374 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (illegal detention and deprivation of legal defense). And they manage to gain some success!

The investigating officer, who illegally detained K., was disciplinarily punished, although his boss, the initiator of this lawless action, remained in the shadow.

Possibly, if our state officers could sacrifice the ’honor’ of some ’uniforms’ for the Law, we, rank-and-file, people, would not feel ourselves the children, who lost their way in the jungle lawlessness.

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