ERRC Letter to the General Prosecutor of Moldova Dumitru Harlampii Postovan
30 May 1997
Honourable Mr. General Prosecutor,
The European Roma Rights Center, an international public interest law organisation defending the rights of the Roma, is concerned about an incident of alleged police ill-treatment of seven Roma in the town of Soroca.
On January 6, 1997, a group of seven Roma were walking in the Roma neighbourhood in Soroca, when a police car carrying two police officers pulled up in front of them and blocked their way. According to testimony of the victims, two police officers under the influence of alcohol jumped out of the car, pulled out their guns and started shooting in the air. The police officers then forced the seven men against a wall, searched them and started beating them in the head with the butts of their guns. The victims reported that the police officers did not provide any explanation for their behaviour. The two officers then allegedly shouted, "Now, run to the cemetery!" and started shooting in the air again, at which point the young men ran away as they had been instructed. From the safety of the corner of a building, however, the young men ventured a glance back at the scene of the incident and observed that the two officers were kneeling down and picking up spent cartridges from the ground.
As a result of the police ill-treatment, Igor C. and Artur P., both twenty years old, suffered serious head injuries and had to undergo medical treatment at the Soroca state hospital. The two men told the ERRC that they filed a complaint against the police at the Soroca District Police Department and that the police officer who received them told them that they would be called in to give testimony. As of May 15, 1997, however, none of the men had heard from the police.
When asked to comment on the case, Colonel Valentin Anatol Artemii, chief of the Soroca Police Department, first denied the whole incident, but then told the ERRC that following a regular search by the police, some Roma "had been upset". According to Colonel Artemii, an investigation into the incident had been carried out by the prosecutor's office and concluded that the police officers in question had acted within legal bounds. At the Soroca Prosecutor's Office, there was no record of the case, however, and Adjunct Prosecutor Ilie Vravie told the ERRC that he had never heard about the incident.
Honourable Mr. General Prosecutor, the ERRC urges you to undertake a thorough and impartial investigation into the above case and kindly asks that the ERRC be informed about the results of the investigation as well as any subsequent disciplinary or judicial proceedings. We thank you in advance for your cooperation and look forward to your prompt reply.