Yesterday, on 19 July the Leninsky District Court of Orenburg issued a ruling to extend the period of detention for Head of the Operational Department Vitaly Simonenko. On the previous day the Sovetsky District Court of Orsk also extended the period of house arrest of the Head of this Detention Facility, Evgeny Shnaider, till 20 October. Planned investigative activities on investigation of the death of convict Vladimir Tkachuk became the ground for restraint extension of the Detention Facility executives.
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 was 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».
– 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, – lawyer 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 six times, and each time human rights defenders appealed against such rulings of the investigators.
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 on behalf of Nadezhda Chertovskikh. In December of the same year the complaint was communicated – questions were put to Russian authorities concerning the circumstances of Tkachuk’s death, as well as about the efficiency of the conducted investigation at the national level.
On 7 June in the framework of the investigation of the criminal case based on the fact of the death of Vladimir Tkachuk, two high-ranking officials of the Orsk Pre-Trial Detention Facility No.2 were apprehended: Acting Head Evgeny Shnaider and Acting Head of the Operational Department Vitaly Simonenko.
Later on Evgeny Shnaider confessed of committing the crime under item “a” Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”) – he hit convict Vladimir Tkachuk several times in the area of arms and chest. The investigation considers Vitaly Simonenko a chief culprit with regard to the battery of Tkachuk. He is charged of committing crimes under two articles: abuse of office using violence which led to grave consequences, and inflicting grave bodily harm which led to the convict’s death by negligence.
“Simonenko and his lawyer objected to extending the period of custodial detention, however, upon the examination of the materials of the case, the court discretion was that previously some evidence in the case had been destroyed and there are grounds to think that the defendant may destroy some other evidence, as well as to influence the witnesses. At the same time, according to the materials of the case, the major part of the witnesses agreed to give evidence only on condition of safety measures applied to them. Shnaider and his defense lawyer, on the other hand, did not object to extending the period of house arrest, apart from asking to authorize one hour of walking per day, but the court refused”, – member of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Vyacheslav Dyundin, representing the interests of Nadezhda Chertovskikh, comments.