war crimes in Ukraine

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Two more murders

Yevhen Zakharov, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Two tragic instances where those detained died at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Again I have to write about deaths of young healthy men as a result of violent actions. And again I have to state that state officials do their best to falsify and conceal the details of these murders in order to evade responsibility, and that nobody knows how these stories will end, since we have no tools for influencing the course of investigation. Dear readers, decide by yourselves, whether these sad conclusions are grounded or not...
In advance I want to excuse for medical details and long quotations from documents, but it is impossible there to go without them.

“Started to beat on the head with hilt”?

This tragic story began late at night on 7 December. Here is a citation from the report of 11 December 2005 signed by police lieutenant colonel S. Onoprienko, a deputy head of the Kharkiv regional department of the Ministry of Interior.

“On 7 December 2005, between 11 and 12 p.m., detectives of the Chervonozavodskiy district police station captain K. Mikhaylov, senior lieutenant A. Padalka and lieutenant S. Koliadin were in the club “E-2” situated in Gritsevtsa Street in Kharkiv. At midnight Koliadin went outside to find a taxi; Mikhaylov and Padalka remained in the club. Near the café door two unknown men approached Koliadin and demanded to give them his personal things. The lieutenant refused. After that one of the strangers, high man with long hair, hit him with fist in the chest. S. Koliadin introduced himself as a police officer, but the attacker drew a pneumatic gun, shot for several times, and then started to beat the policeman on the head with the gun hilt. As a result, Koliadin fell down and started to call for help. The strangers continued to beat him with feet and gun. At that time Mikhaylov and Padalka ran up to the place and the strangers escaped; at that one of the attackers fell. Then two more men came, who said that they were the witnesses of beating of S. Koliadin, and proposed help. Later it was established that their names were S. Zhila and S. Morskiy. Zhila drove, by his own car, Koliadin, Mikhaylov, Padalka and Morskiy to the Chervonozavodskiy district station. From the station S. Koliadin was transported to the 4th town hospital by an ambulance. He had the compound wound of the parietal region. K. Mikhaylov, together with A. Padalka and S. Zhila returned to the place of event for conduction of the operative-detective activities. In the course of these actions citizen O. Dunich was detained at a market in Gritsevtsa Street, who was identified by S. Zhila as the person, which had beaten S. Koliadin with a gun. Dunich was conveyed to the Chervonozavodskiy station and registered in the book of visitors at 4 a.m., 8 December 2005. During the examination of Dunich’s clothes the law-enforcers found and seized a pneumatic gun. Senior lieutenant G. Snurnikov compiled the protocol of requisitioning of the gun, but Dunich categorically refused to sign the protocol in presence of witnesses S. Zhila and S. Morskiy. Besides, O. Dunich refused to give any explanations.

O. Dunich complained about poor health, and on 8 December 2005, in the building of the Chervonozavodskiy station, forensic expert E. Danilenko carried out his medical examination. The expert found on Dunich’s body numerous haematomas and bruises, which were classified as trivial injuries and had been inflicted not less than 3 days before the examination (act No. 4414C of 9 December 2005). Since the state of Dunich’s health was deteriorating, an ambulance was called to him. The doctors took Dunich to the 4th hospital, where he died on 9 December 2005 at noon.

Mikhaylov, Padalka and Koliadin categorically denied the fact of application to Dunich of force and physical influence; O. Dunich, for his turn, did not complain, during the medical expertise, against actions of the policemen”.

Let us read act No. 4414 of forensic medical examination of Oleg Dunich, born in 1976, “who was conveyed to the Chervonozavodskiy district police station on 8 December 2005 with bodily injuries”. Forensic medical expert E. Danilenko presents the situation and the results of the medical examination as follows:

“The examined declared that he would not explain where he had got the bodily injuries. However, he informed that he had undergone the surgical operation connected with scull trepanation. Expressed the complaints about headache, vertigo, gleams before the eyes. Methods of psychological and physical influence were not applied.

It should be noted that the examined smelt of alcohol, he also said that he had fallen for several times.

The examined told that he was taken to the Chervonozavodskiy district station at about 4 a.m. by police officers on the suspicion of commitment of a crime…

… I have come to the conclusion that the examined has bruises on his face, body and extremities”.

On 12 December Yu. Dmitrenko, the head of branch No. 1 of the Kharkiv regional bureau of forensic medical expertise, wrote in his letter to A. Barkov, the head of the Kharkiv regional department of internal security:

“In response to your oral request I inform that on 8 December 2005, at 8:40 a.m., citizen Oleg Dunich was transported by ambulance МСП-315 to the emergency hospital from the Chervonozavodskiy district police station with the diagnosis: closed cerebral trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, brain cerebral edema, coma, blunt trauma of thorax, fracture of right ribs, blunt trauma of abdomen, aspiration with vomit masses. In spite of medical measures, the state of the patient remained extremely grave, and on 9 December 2005, at 11:30, a.m. the arrest of effective circulation was fixed. Reanimation measures were unsuccessful. At 12:00 the biological death was verified with the diagnosis: serious cerebral brain trauma, subdural hematoma of left hemisphere, contusion-crushing of the basilar areas of left temporal lobe, edema-dislocation of cerebral brain, multiple injuries of head, face, thorax and extremities. At the moment of arrival of citizen O. Dunich to the hospital alcohol was not revealed in his organism.

Preliminary results: during examination of the corpse of citizen O. Dunich, the expert made the conclusion about grave cerebral brain trauma, which caused death, multiple bruises on the body and extremities, fracture of the thyroid cartilage, straight fractures of several ribs on the right, lung contusion.

The reason of death of citizen O. Dunich: grave cerebral brain trauma.”

So, when and where Dunich obtained this grave cerebral brain trauma incompatible with life?

It is obvious that two acts of forensic medical expertise do not agree with each other. In my opinion, there are two versions: either the first act of expertise has been falsified (I want to point out that expert Danilenko writes that “the examined smelt of alcohol”, and the act of post-mortem expertise reads that alcohol was not revealed in Dunich’s organism), or Dunich obtained this trauma after the first expertise. The details of this case looked rather strangely: why Dunich was detained at night at a market and when the first expertise was made in the building of the district station, if he was transported to the station at 4:00 and in 8:40 he arrived to the hospital? At least 30 minutes are needed to drive from the Chervonozavodskiy station to the hospital. So, the expertise was conducted at night or early in the morning? But why medical expert Danilenko was at work at such time? However, in any case it seems that the trauma, which caused Dunich’s death, had been injured by police officers. It is absurdly to allege that he, having such trauma obtained three days before the considered events, attacked a policeman and beat his with a gun.

According to information received, three mentioned officers left the service at once, head of the Chervonozavodskiy district station Tokarev was suspended from his post, and the criminal case was started in connection with Dunich’s death. The investigation is carried out, but I reckon that this case is not very complicated, if there is the real wish to detect it.


«Cause of death was not ascertained»

This very phrase is written in item 9 of medical certificate No. 3033 of 21 December 2005 issued in connection with death of Armen Melkonian, which occurred on 17 December 2005 in investigation isolation center No. 27 (Kharkiv). This cautious conclusion was made by morbid anatomist A. Linnik, although in item 11 he wrote that the death was directly caused by “asphyxia” and “closure of respiratory tract by vomit masses”, and that there was another serious disease – “closed cerebral brain trauma”. So, how it happened that the young healthy 21-years-old boy died in the investigation center? Head of the center Sergiy Tkachenko alleges that the death of Melkonian has been natural, writes journalist Ganna Silaeva in the newspaper “Objektiv-NO”. By words of Tkachenko, when Melkonian’s state deteriorated, the doctor of the investigation center called an ambulance, and the young man died in presence of doctors. Yet, medics could not confirm this information. The doctor on duty did not found in the database either calling of ambulance to the isolation center or the surname “Melkonian”. There are no records in the column “death”: either “before arrival” or in presence”.

Relatives of Melkonian turned to me for assistance in the evening of 21 December. I was in Kyiv then and advised them by phone to insist on institution of criminal case after the fact of death and conduction of forensic medical expertise, and to postpone the funeral. My suspicions were arisen by the fact that the autopsy was made only on the fifth day after the death and that the prosecutor’s office of the Zhovtnevy district of Kharkiv did not institute the criminal case in connection with Melkonian’s death, especially after such medical conclusion. On 22 December the prosecutor’s office did not start the case, but insisted on funeral. I involved head of the regional state administration and his deputy in questions of cooperation with law-enforcing organs into this problem and achieved that the criminal case was started and forensic medical expertise was carried out. On 23 December the case was instituted, and deputy head of the regional state administration Sergiy Storozhenko told me by phone that the postmortem examination showed that the death had been violent. It is interesting that on 22 December we phoned to the Department of penitentiaries and asked why the autopsy was mage only on the fifth day. They answered that this was the repeated autopsy. And where is the act about the results of the first autopsy? Nobody knows. By statement of the advocate, the investigating officer still has no act of forensic medical expertise even today, 14 January. Well, this investigation is not very fast …

The penitentiary system is even more closed than police, and it is impossible to learn what happens inside it. A person, which has got in this system, is absolutely dependent on administration and has no opportunity to complain against its actions. All complaints against the actions of administration of penitentiary establishments or investigation isolation centers, which we received, were sent past censorship…

These two murders raise the question again: how to organize control over the legality of actions of law-enforcing organs, in particular, how to achieve fast and efficient investigation of the complaints about torture and cruel treatment? Our experience shows that prosecutor’s office fulfils this work too badly. Other mechanisms are necessary.
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