So what is happening in police custody?
It is a month since Ihor Indylo, a student about to turn 20, died in the Shevchenkivsky Police Station in Kyiv. The police are continuing to claim that he “fell” while drunk, although this is not substantiated by the forensic evidence. Calls for a proper investigation for human rights and civic organizations have been accompanied by protests throughout the country. As reported here, there is also evidence that the police are putting pressure on witnesses.
In his article “Police with the people: four deaths and one in hospital”, Andriy Yanitsky gives details about other deaths which cannot but arouse concern.
In June, he writes, there were three deaths in police stations, one after a suspect left the SIZO [remand unit], while one person ended up in emergency care after an encounter with the police.
He says that it is known with certainty only that two police officers were dismissed over the death of a suspect.
On 11 June in Sosnytsa, Chernihiv region, after several days in SIZO on suspicion of theft, Valery Kisel hanged himself. His lawyer is convinced he was tortured in the SIZO. The lawyer, O. Zagolets, said that privately Valery Kisel had told him that he had had a bag put over his head and been beaten. He said that his client had been afraid to speak in front of the police, and after being released, was convinced that they would “come and kill them all”. On 11 June he hanged himself in a shed, leaving a note: “I did it all myself. Kiss the children”.
On 12 June in Kalanchak, Kherson region, after an encounter with the police, 25 year old Oleksandr Smirnov ended up in emergency care. His sister says that he was beaten by two local police officers and their friend from Kherson. Their form of “entertainment”, she says, to beat up local guys.
The police claim that he got into a fight with a person from Kherson, and that the police tried to separate them.
Also on 12 June, in the Ordzhonikidze District Police Station in Kharkiv a 29 year old man detained on suspicion of robbing a jewellery shop died. The police claim that the medical report says he died of a heart attack and that it is possible that this was due to a drug overdose. That version is being supported by the Prosecutor.
On 13 June in the Sviatoshynsky District Police Station in Kyiv 25-year-old Dmytro Yashchuk hanged himself. He had been detained on suspicion of holding a small amount of drugs not to sell. The journalist investigation bureau “Svidomo” was shown a video by the Press Service of the Kyiv Police which apparently shows that Dmytro did hang himself. The police officers who searched him without finding rope and who should have been watching the monitors, were dismissed the next day, while the head of the station and six other officers faced a disciplinary penalty. Dmytro’s relatives do not believe that he killed himself.
There was apparently another death in the Artemivsk Police Station in Luhansk. At present the police are refusing to comment.
In almost all the cases the people involved had criminal records. Yevhen Zakharov from KHPG has on many occasions pointed out that it is people who are known to the police who often suffer with the police. “Usually the police beat those whom they have grounds for suspecting of a crime. So that they’ll take the crime on themselves.”
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