The issue of Orenburg sobering-up stations will be raised in court


07 October 2011

The Leninsky district court of Orenburg has started proceedings under the claim of Orsk (Orenburg region) resident Olga Litkevich against the Orenburg Regional Finance Ministry. The claimant wants to obtain a compensation of moral damage incurred by actions and omissions of Orsk sobering-up station workers in 2004.

The last sobering-up station was closed in Orsk, and all over the Orenburg region, in 2005 soon after the incident leading to an untimely death of the applicant’s son – Sergey Litkevich, 23 years old. Olga Liktevich fairly claims that the civil responsibility for her son’s death should be borne by the financial body financing sobering-up stations under law.

The circumstances of the case are as follows. In the evening on 6 September 2004 Sergey was detained by the traffic police and taken to a sobering-up station. At night a doctor was summoned who examined Mr. Litkevich and concluded that he had no injuries, this fact was documented in the traffic police report. In the morning on September 7 Sergey’s friends came to the sobering-up station to pick him up. They failed to wake Sergey up, he was unconscious. The ambulance took Litkevich to hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain injury. Sergey was immediately operated on, but it was too late, he died without coming to himself.  According to forensic medical experts, the cause of death was as follows: “grave brain contusion with destruction of the left frontal lobe, subdural brain hemorrhage”. However, the traffic police and medical sobering-up staff claim that no violence was used against Litkevich.

Criminal proceedings upon the fact of the youth’s death were instigated several months after the incident, the investigation was openly delayed by investigative authorities.  It was 11 times suspended, each time the decision on suspension was rendered unlawful and unjustified by courts.  Due to the reluctance of domestic authorities to investigate the case, in March 2009 the Committee Against Torture had to lodge an application with the European Court of Human Rights. The investigation has been stonewalled by the authorities for 7 years already, as a result of which the agents responsible for the terminal injury have not been identified. Human rights defenders have twice established forgery by an official in the course of investigation and asked higher-standing authorities to bring the perpetrators to criminal responsibility. Moreover, in September this year the Leninsky district court of Orsk criticized the last 5 years of investigation, having found that the investigation term had been unlawfully prolonged by officials not having relevant powers. However, no one has been held accountable for the ineffective investigation. This situation reflects the profundity of the disaster of the Orenburg regional investigation bodies.   

The claimant is represented by lawyers of the Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture.

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