Death in Police Custody: Official and Unofficial Versions
Dmitry Pozdeev’s brief life ended on September 29, two days after being taken into police custody. The 19-year-old from Dnipropetrovsk was suspected of carrying out thefts in Zaporizhya and had been taking part in “investigative activities” when he died. Beyond this the story is blurred and full of worrying contradictions.
According to the
They also assert that the investigative activities were outside the police station in the presence of formal witnesses and that they were recorded. Pozdeev was only then, they allege, returned to the police station to draw up official documents. “20 minutes later the suspect became unwell. He fell and began gasping for breath”. According to this version, an ambulance was called immediately, the doctors arrived, and the young man died around 20 minutes later, in the ambulance.
Media reports give a different version.
The police assert that a forensic medical analysis found the cause of death to have been an acute heart disorder.
The first media report was on Oct. 1, two days after Dmitry Pozdeev died. The young man was an orphan, brought up in institutions, and it is not clear if anybody besides the forensic medical team called in by the police has formally examined his body. It will shortly be difficult to do so since his funeral is taking place on Friday, Oct. 4. Photos have just been posted on
Not the first
Perhaps the upbeat noises from the police, Prosecutor and Health Ministry, are warranted. The police, however, have only themselves to blame for public skepticism.
It is over three years since another 19-year-old, Ihor Indylo died on the eve of what should have been his twentieth birthday. The police were on that occasion prevented from concealing the death of a perfectly healthy young student in police custody by journalists from TV 1 + 1. Faced with widespread public anger once the news spread, the Prosecutor’s office initiated a criminal investigation. Two officers subsequently faced very limited charges of “exceeding authority” and “professional negligence”. Serhiy Kovalenko was amnestied while Serhiy Prykhodko received a 5 year conditional sentence. He had not even been suspended from his position. There is an ongoing court case supposedly aimed at ascertaining how Indylo received the blow which caused his death, but since the Prosecutor has successfully hampered all attempts, supported by Ihor Indylo’s parents, to seek further investigation before a new court examination, it is difficult to believe in the authorities’ commitment to establishing the truth.
Three years, and many other deaths in police custody later, there seem no grounds for believing that anything has been learned, Perhaps the law enforcement bodies are telling the truth, however the only chance of finding that out will be if the media and civic organizations take up the story and force an investigation. If the official version is fiction, then silence is terrifying.