war crimes in Ukraine

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Torture in Custody: the Police claim Strogan inflicted injuries himself

A picket was held on Tuesday 14 December outside the Kharkiv Regional MIA Department to protest over the alleged torture by members of the police force of Yakov Strogan and others

A picket was held on Tuesday 14 December outside the Kharkiv Regional MIA Department in support of Yakov Strogan and to protest over torture by members of the police force.

The case of Yakov Strogan is particularly shocking.  The Kharkiv man who publicly alleged that after being accused of inflicting injuries on his neighbour he was tortured by the police who demanded money from him, has once again suffered injuries. Last Thursday he was arrested by the police and appeared in court the next day with numerous bruises.

There were around 30 picketers among them people who have immediate experience of police brutality.

Zamira Ismailova’s nephew was, she alleges, tortured in the same forest as Yakov Strogan and also by officers of the Kievsky Police Station a year ago.  The young man confessed to three rapes, yet in the court it was proven that at the time of the first crime he was not even in Ukraine, while the other two crimes were sent for further examination. As far as the allegations of torture are concerned, Zamira Ismailova says that nobody is investigating them despite their report backed up by medical documents.

Human rights groups are convinced that Yakov Strogan has been the victim of further ill-treatment due to his public allegations of torture. As reported, the charge of attempted murder on the grounds of which he was arrested last Thursday emerged only 2 and a half months after the altercation with his neighbour.  They come only two weeks after hearings organized by a parliamentary committee where Yakov Strogan repeated his allegations.

It is highly disturbing that despite all these details, as well as the shocking state Yakov Strogan was in when he was brought to court after a night in police custody, the judge – Svetlana Muratova – still saw fit to remand him in custody.

He is now in a SIZO [remand centre] but was only taken there from police custody on Saturday, meaning that he spent a second night held by officers whom he accuses of torture.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Aigul Mukanova, lawyer for the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, stated:

“There was no investigation, no study of the circumstances explaining why Strogan was beaten and  brought to court in such a state. There was nothing of that nature, either from the Prosecutor or from the court. Yesterday we had a medical examination done in the regional hospital: there were hematoma, bruises, marks from having been suffocated, marks of torture on intimate parts of his body”.

Human rights activists have for 4 days now being demanding that a criminal investigation is initiated into the new torture inflicted on Mr Strogan. On Wednesday the Kievsky Prosecutor’s Office stated that a check of the case had been begun.

Despite medical documents, there has been no success at getting a proper criminal investigation initiated.

The new check is also likely to find that the police officers were uninvolved. The Deputy Prosecutor of the Kievsky District has already suggested that Yakov Strogan inflicted the injuries on himself. This is also the line taken by the staff of the police station. Yury Sitnikov, the Head of the Investigation Union, says that Strogan refused to undress and show the contents of his pockets, and then began beating his head against the railing.

The police are paying more attention to the charges against Strogan. For four months there was talk of a domestic scuffle with light bodily injuries. Now this has been changed to attempted murder. The neighbour’s wife on Wednesday asserted that Strogan had attempted to kill her husband. He himself has not given any interviews.

Lawyers believe that the case needs to be examined and find the change in charges dubious. Human rights activists stress that nobody can be found guilty without a court ruling and in no case must they be subjected to torture.

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