Human rights defenders enforced the criminal case on «killing plank» in the Orenburg Pre-Trial Detention Facility to be re-opened


21 April 2016

It took human rights defenders from the Committee for Prevention of Torture nine months to enforce re-opening of the criminal case on convicted Vladimir Tkachuk’s death in Pre-Trial Detention Facility No.2 of Orsk town of the Orenburg region in 2013. It should be noted that the case initiated in March 2014 under part 4 Article 111 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («voluntary infliction of grave bodily harm resulted in death by negligence»), has been illegally dismissed four times already.

(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. 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.
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 criminalistic 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».

But even after the criminal case was opened the investigators have not come closer to identifying the persons guilty of Tkachuk’s death. The case was dismissed four times. Each time human rights defenders appealed against these dismissals and they were declared illegal and subsequently quashed.
Human rights defenders had to appeal to court against the latest refusal to initiate criminal proceedings, since the head of the investigative department for major cases of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Orenburg region considered such a ruling of his subordinate to be illegal. Judge of the Leninskiy District Court of Orenburg disagreed, having admitted the challenged ruling to be illegal and having compelled head of the regional Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF Sergey Kolotov to rectify the violations which had been allowed to take place.

It should be noted that the Prosecutor’s Office and the investigative authority representatives persistently but unsuccessfully tried to challenge the court’s ruling on appeal. Instead of re-opening the criminal case and get busy with its investigation the Investigative Committee officers dedicated their time and efforts to legal proceedings.
Yesterday lawyers of the Committee for Prevention of Torture, representing the interests of Nadezhda Chertovskikh, received a copy of ruling dated 12 April 2016 on re-opening of the criminal case into the death of Vladimir Tkachuk. At the present moment the case is handed over to a new investigator of the first department of major cases investigation of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Orenburg region.
«Six illegal refusals to open the criminal case, four illegal dismissals of the criminal case and not a single suspect or accused – this is the result of the investigation which lasted for over two and a half years, – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Timur Rakhmatulin, representing the victim, comments. – In this respect we decided to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, because at the national level the state showed that it is not interested in establishing the circumstances under which Vladimir Tkachuk received his injuries, including the fatal ones. On the other hand, it is quite promising that after re-opening the case was handed over to the investigator with experience of solving crimes committed by the Federal Penitentiary Service officers. In any case, we will do everything in our power so that in future violations in the course of investigation, if there are any, will be accordingly assessed both at the national level and in the European Court of Human Rights».

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