The Death in a Psychiatric Home they couldn’t hush up
As reported earlier, during the night of 11 August, 43-year-old patient of the Novosavytsky Psychiatric Home, Yury Vovchenko, died. He was buried, on the instructions of the orderlies, before morning, but the body was then exhumed.
Oleksandr Kosaryev, Head of the Committee for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption is certain that Mr Vovchenko was tortured. He says that only two ribs were still intact, the others had been fractured; there were marks from haemorrhaging all over his body, he had a fractured jaw and his eyes could virtually not be seen.
The police initiated four criminal investigations against staff who are accused of causing grave bodily injury, not providing help, trying to conceal a crime and exceeding their powers.
The Novosavytsky Psychiatric Home is in the Odessa region and has 220 residents with psychological disorders.
Oleksandr Kosaryev says that patients began approaching them last year. “They said that they were being beaten, tortured. We asked the Prosecutor and SBU to check. They found nothing. Four months ago we were told that the orderlies had hanged a patient, however again nobody found anything. Then we decided to get our own evidence”.
The committee bought two mobile phones and gave them to patients so that they could ring.
“On 11 August 20-year-old Andriy Baranov phoned and said that the staff were torturing Vovchenko. We planned a visit the next day, but during the night Andriy rang again and said that Vovchenko had been killed. We went immediately. The orderlies claimed that the patients had had a fight, but that all was OK, they were sitting together drinking tea. They said that Yury had died of heart failure.
Patients told the Committee activists that Vochenko had been tortured by orderly Yury Kolomiyets since he’d refused to work. They said that he had tied him to the bed and invited others to beat him. The patients willingly showed them the graves of people who’d been killed.
Oleksandr Kosaryev says that when they began working with the documents, they found that most of the patients aged up to 20 had supposedly died of heart failure or cirrhosis of the liver, but their bodies had not gone through the morgue.
The police are planning to exhume the bodies of 30 people who died and have autopsies carried out.
Orderly Yury Kolomiyets admits kicking Vovchenko but says it was because he attacked a woman assistant and that he put him in the punishment cell where he was attacked by other patients.
He is supported in this by the doctor Georgy Tkachuk who claims that the patients had a fight over the television, that the orderlies tried to calm Vovchenko. “However he’s healthy, strong – they had to hit him several times. In the isolation cell, he began having trouble breathing, we called the nurse but it was too late. We didn’t notify the police, because there were no instructions on this.
The Director of the Home, Valentina Stukalo, refuses to give any comment, and calls the occurrence “provocation”.
The police are establishing the details. The Acting District Prosecutor is scathing about the excuse that there were no instructions – a man died and the law enforcement bodies needed to be told. He points out that Mr Vovchenko died of grave bodily injuries.
The people in Novosytske are reluctant to talk about it – most of the staff live in the village.
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