After the response of the European Court the criminal case based on the fact of death of a citizen from Orenburg in the Pre-Trial Detention Facility was resumed


02 February 2017

The Investigative Committee has resumed the investigation of the criminal case based on the fact of death of Vladimir Tkachuk in the Pre-Trial Detention Facility No.2 in the Orenburg region in 2013. As we have previously reported, in December of last year the European Court of Human Rights communicated a complaint of lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture on behalf of the victim’s mother. At that time the Strasburg judges posed a number of questions to the Russian Federation, including: whether Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms («Right to life») was violated with regard to Tkachuk, as well as whether the efficient investigation of his death was conducted at the domestic level. 

(Photo: Vladimir Tkachuk)

As we have previously reported, mother of convicted Vladimir Tkachuk Nadezhda Chertovskikh applied to interregional non-governmental organization «Committee for Prevention of Torture» for legal assistance in September 2013. She informed human rights defenders that on 5 September she received a call from an unknown person who told her that her son had been beaten to death by the officers of Pre-Trial Detention Facility No.2 in Orsk, Orenburg region, where Tkachuk was seconded from Penal-Colony No 11 to serve his sentence as a household worker.

Initially the investigation of Tkachuk’s death was conducted in a rather spiritless and drowsy manner: this was expressively showed by the fact that investigator of Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for Orsk (Orenburg region) Anastasia Chichina issued six refusals to initiate criminal proceedings which were subsequently declared illegal and quashed. For half a year the investigator was asserting that Tkachuk received his numerous injuries as a result of a wooden plank falling on him. By the way, the unknown person who telephoned Nadezhda Chertovskikh on 5 September 2013 told her that the detention facility staff were going to maintain the version with the falling plank.

In all likelihood, the investigator considered the following version of the incident to be credible: a plank 30 centimeters wide and 5 centimeters thick was standing at the wall – the convicts used such planks to cover floors in the room. For some reason the investigator did not define the length of the plank, specifying it at «about 2-3 meters». As a matter of fact, the investigator did not see the «killing plank» as such, but just took the words of the detention facility staff for it. And so this plank supposedly fell on Vladimir Tkachuk’s head. However, judging by the character of his injuries, the plank fell several times…

Later on the conclusion of the specialist of State-owned Federal State Institution «111 Head State Center of medico-legal criminalist examinations» of the Ministry of Defense of Russia established that «the character of V.I.Tkachuk’s closed craniocerebral injury shows that it was made as a result of repeated blows with a blunt hard object or objects with predominant traumatizing surface in head’s frontal, sincipital and cervical zones».

– According to the version of Pre-Trial Detention Facility officers, Tkachuk received his injury at production on 2 September, and then he was taken to the Punishment Isolation Cell allegedly because he refused to get up after the wakeup order. According to the witnesses’ evidence, during all this time Tkachuk was asking for medical assistance, complained of headache and feeling bad, and in the course of several days before death he was already in the state of delirium, not realizing where he was. However, the doctors arrived to him only at 00.45 on 5 September when he was already in a coma. On 02.50 of the same day the doctors registered the death of the convict, – lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Timur Rakhmatulin, representing the interests of the mother of the deceased, reported.

The criminal case with relation to this fact was initiated only in half a year, but even after that the investigators did not come closer to establishing the persons guilty of Tkachuk’s death: the case was dismissed five times, and each time human rights defenders appealed against such rulings of the investigators. At the present time the criminal case is dismissed once again.

At the same time, on 4 May 2016 lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture applied a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, in which they provided not only the objective evidence, allowing to establish that mortal wounds of Tkachuk and other injuries of his were the result of violence, but also indicated that the state, represented by the Orsk Pre-Trial Detention Facility executives, as a minimum, failed to provide for appropriate measures to prevent the death of Vladimir Tkachuk, who could have been saved within three days.
The complaint also lists numerous drawbacks of the official investigation, which fails to comply with any one the criteria of effective investigation, developed by the practice of the European Court. 

The work continued at the domestic level, too. Lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Timur Rakhmatulin appealed against another dismissal of the criminal case – on 26 January of this year it was resumed for the fifth time.
«Despite the fact that the criminal case was initiated three years ago, many important investigative activities have not been performed yet, – Rakhmatulin emphasizes. – For example, the investigators, knowing the telephone number, from which the victim’s mother was informed on the criminal character of his death, failed to identify whom it belonged to. The investigators failed to establish why there was no signature of the head of the penal institution on the order for putting Tkachuk to the Punishment Isolation Cell, where he was dying; why the case materials lack most important video records of the last hours of Tkachuk’s life; why Tkachuk and the only witness who allegedly saw how the plank hit Tkachuk, were assigned to different construction sites, according to the documentation; why on the day of Tkachuk’s death, when, starting from the early morning, the convicts repeatedly informed the penal institution officers that Tkachuk was delirious and was not aware of his own whereabouts, the ambulance was called for him, and so on. The list of «why’s» is too long. That is why we are sure that the investigation has a complicated and laborious job before them, and if they treat it seriously,   this criminal case will be solved and the guilty parties will be brought to responsibility. As far as we are concerned, we developed a number of motions on conducting the corresponding investigative activities and on establishing all the significant circumstances”.

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