Court has found four policemen guilty of abuse of power and unlawful detention
The Shevchenkivsky District Court of Lviv has found four policemen guilty of abuse of power and unlawful detention. Lawyer Maria Kaminska of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Network represented the victim. The network is coordinated by the Kharkiv Human Rights Group with support from the Public Health Program Initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation.
In early December 2011 police arrested Lviv resident Mr. L. and his friend when they caught them urinating in a basement. The officers didn’t write up an administrative report or give them a warning because the boys didn’t have IDs with them. They were taken to the precinct and held until morning. In the morning they were asked to sign a document stating that they had no complaints with regard to the actions of the officers. But when another officer recognized one of men as being under administrative supervision, instead of releasing him police moved him to the precinct inspectors office. Neither his mother nor his lawyer was informed of his whereabouts. When his mother learned that he was being held by the police, the precinct refused to confirm.
The police officers demanded that Mr. L confess to committing burglaries he did not. He was moved from one police station to another and the “crime scenes”, kicked, hit with a wooden baton, stripped. Four policemen were involved – three precinct officers and the deputy chief of the Shevchenkivsky District Department of Lviv City Internal Affairs.
After three days of abuse, the man agreed to sign a confession. He said he didn’t care about the content of the confession because of the pain, fatigue, and hunger.
After much searching, the lawyer managed to locate Mr. L and secure his release. The man took only a few steps outside the police station before fainting. He was taken to the hospital, where he spent a week. Doctors found numerous bruises on his body, which were classified as minor bodily injuries.
The case went to court. Although the police officers denied their guilt, the Shevchenkivsky District Court sentenced them to prison. The evidence against them included medical reports, testimony by the victim’s lawyer and mother, and the victim’s bloodied clothes left in one of the holding cells.
The court found all four policemen guilty of abuse of power and wrongful detention. They were sentenced to 3-5 years in prison, stripped of their ranks of major and sergeants, and banned from working in law enforcement for a period of time. The harshest sentence went to the deputy chief of police, who, according to the court, directed his subordinates.
The police officers can appeal the verdict.
Ukrainian Legal Aid Network
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