Trial of the former head of the detention facility and his subordinate continues in the Orenburg region


05 December 2017

The Sovetsky District Court of Orsk continues to examine the criminal case against former head of local Detention Facility #2 Evgeny Shnaider and former head of the operational department of the same institution Vitaly Simonenko. They are charged with abuse of office using violence against the three convicts, one of which, Vladimir Tkachuk, subsequently died. Today two important witnesses for the prosecution were questioned: head of the medical unit of the detention facility and the safety engineer.

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In the course of the court hearing, doctor Larisa Gayevskaya, who is heading medical unit of Detention Facility # 2, reported that she learned about Vladimir Tkachuk’s unwellness from the telephone conversation with nurse Marina Utkina, who was on night duty on 4 September 2013. She received a call on her mobile phone after 22, when she was driving from work. The nurse asked for a consultation regarding the fact that she was concerned with the condition of the convict Tkachuk. Marina Utkina called again at around midnight. She informed that her request to urgently call for the ambulance was being ignored by the duty officer according to the order of Evgeny Shnaider who was performing the duty of the head of Detention Facility #2. Answering the question of lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vyacheslav Dyundin, why she failed to go to the Detention Facility immediately, she said she did not have to do it.

Witness Galina Yudina, the Detention Facility safety engineer, explained that if convict Vladimir Tkachuk had gotten actually injured at work, she would have been involved in the check as the responsible for safety at workplaces, whereas, in fact, she was not even informed about the incident. This testimony disproves the theory of a mischance. By the way, the falseness of this theory was acknowledged by the defendants themselves during the stage of the preliminary investigation.

As we have previously reported, mother of convicted Vladimir Tkachuk Nadezhda Chertovskikh applied to interregional non-governmental organization «Committee Against 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 theory 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 Against 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 human rights defenders 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 of this year 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 the main culprit regarding the battery of Tkachuk. He is charged with 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. At the present time, the investigators think that Simonenko did not have the intent of inflicting grave bodily harm to Vladimir, which is why part 4 of Article 111 of the Russian Criminal Code is excluded from the indictment.

“The testimony of witnesses which were received during today’s court hearing, are in full compliance with the testimony, previously provided by Vasily Mirzodjanov, one of the victims, – comments lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vyacheslav Dyundin, representing his interests and the interests of the mother of deceased Tkachuk. – Previously Vasily told that he witnessed the events which led to the death of convict Vladimir Tkachuk, in particular, he saw his battery. In addition, according to Mirzodjanov, he and other convicts were in the same cell with convict Tkachuk and saw that his condition was deteriorating. Sometime after he was put in the cell, Tkachuk became delirious and stopped recognizing people. Vasily and other convicts repeatedly during two days were asking the penitentiary officers to provide him with medical assistance. However, Vladimir Tkachuk was taken from the cell to the medical unit only when he was in an unconscious state. In addition, Vasily told that he and other convicts were ordered (under the threat of physical violence) to tell everybody that a plank fell on Tkachuk and that he allegedly told that to them himself”.

The court hearing will be continued tomorrow, on 6 December 2017.

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