Police Violence against Romani Youth in Moldova
07 May 2002
According to a December 6, 2001, statement to the ERRC by Ms Veronica Arapu, mother of Constantin Arapu, on October 2, 2001, at approximately 9:30 PM, two young Roma, Constantin Arapu and his cousin Maric Arapu, both 15 years old, were beaten by three police officers in the town of Orhei, north of Chisinau, after leaving a bar called "Comfort". On the evening in question, the youths were reportedly leaving the bar, when they heard the sound of breaking glass. According to Ms Arapu, at that moment, three police officers in uniforms, Officers P., S. and G., reportedly intoxicated, approached the two youths and asked them who had broken the glass. Constantin Arapu reportedly said that he had not broken any glass and the three officers allegedly started to beat the youths, slapping them repeatedly. They then forced them to the yard of the police department close to the bar. Once inside the police compound, all three officers continued beating the youths, slapping Constantin Arapu in the face. One of the police officers also struck Constantin Arapu in the head with his service revolver, causing him to lose consciousness and fall to the ground. According to the statement of Maric Arapu to the ERRC, the officers stopped beating Constantin Arapu after he fell to the ground and then ordered Maric Arapu to bring him some water. Maric Aparu also stated that Constantin recovered consciousness only when he sprinkled water onto his face. The police officers then reportedly told Maric Arapu to take his cousin home.
That evening, according to Ms Arapu, Constantin Arapu felt ill, with a strong headache and dizziness. The following morning, on October 3, 2001, Ms Arapu took her son to the local hospital in Orhei where he remained for treatment for a period of one month.
According to Ms Arapu, on October 3, 2001, hospital officials notified the Orhei Municipal Police Station that Constantin Arapu had been hospitalised for bodily injuries he had sustained and urged the police to open an investigation. On October 10, 2001, a medical certificate was issued stating that Constantin Arapu suffered grave bodily injuries. Approximately two weeks following the incident, Ms Arapu filed a criminal complaint at the Prosecutor's Office in Orhei in connection with the events of October 2, 2001. Mr Radu Dumneanu, investigator of the Prosecutor's Office of Orhei told the ERRC on December 7, 2001, that the investigation was in progress, and that he had applied for a new forensic examination to be performed in front of a medical commission to confirm the findings of the first examination.
On December 14, 2001, Ms Arapu was reportedly informed that the medical commission had decided during the second medical examination that Constantin's injuries were much less grave than stated in the first forensic document.
According to Ms Arapu, on February 13, 2002, Officers P., S. and G. were brought to trial on charges of excessive use of force, in accordance with Article 185 of the Moldovan Penal Code, which carries with it a sentence of between five and fifteen years in jail. On March 26, 2002, the court sentenced officer G. to two years imprisonment and suspended the sentence. Officers P. and S. were acquitted.