15 April 2009
Protect peaceful Moldovan protesters from police ill-treatment

Hundreds of people have been detained in Moldova after the country's authorities blamed them for the rioting that followed a peaceful demonstration on 6 April.

According to the Moldovan Ministry of Internal Affairs, by 11 April, 129 people had been detained. Of these, 88 people had been sentenced to between two and 15 days’ administrative detention, 22 people had been fined and four people had been released. A further 86 people have been detained on suspicion of committing criminal acts.

Amnesty International is concerned that detainees are being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. Local NGOs have testimonies from over 100 detainees, their lawyers and families, alleging many instances of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

There are many reported cases of detainees not being given access to a lawyer and of trials being held in haste in police stations, often in groups, usually in the absence of lawyers.

Police are also hindering the work of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office. The Consultative Council for the Prevention of Torture, a national body that monitors places of detention, as well as the UN Human Rights Advisor to Moldova, were refused access to two police stations in the capital and were only able to visit a pre-trial detention centre after three hours of negotiation.

Detainees' stories
A group of 36 people travelling in minibuses and a car were stopped by police in masks with machine guns at 12.30am on 7 April and escorted to the Central Police Commissariat in Chisinau They were reported to have been made to stand in the courtyard against the wall with their legs and arms apart for two hours. One of them reported that he was beaten in the face with a rifle butt. They were then reported to have been beaten repeatedly with a police baton and kicked while being questioned.

After questioning, they were allegedly forced to run along a "corridor of death" of uniformed police, consisting of five or six on each side, while police beat, kicked and used batons against them. After this they were told to strip down to their underwear -- this included seven women -- and they were forced to perform squats. They were detained overnight and given administrative sentences of between two and 10 days.  

Damian Hancu, a 23 year-old Moldovan studying in France, was at the demonstrations on 7 April interpreting for Swedish journalists when he was detained by police officers at 10pm on 7 April. He was reported to have been severely beaten and kicked by police officers in custody, to force him to confess to having taken part in the rioting and the destruction of the government and presidential building.

He said: "They beat us like animals. I thought they would beat us until we were dead. It is very hard when you are innocent." He was released on 9 April and was charged with an administrative offence.

A. B (21) was taken from the student hostel where he lives by unidentified men in civilian clothes who took him to Riscani police station. He was given no access to a lawyer and his parents were not allowed to visit him. When his father went to try and see him at the police station, he is reported to have been told that none of the detained had seen a lawyer "because lawyers are not allowed in this police station".

Anatol Matasaru was detained on 8 April, and was given access to his lawyer who reported that he was so badly beaten that he was breathing and speaking with difficulty.  He is still in detention. Two people who had been in detention with him reported that not only was Anatol Matasaru beaten like the other detainees, but more so because he was known to the police from his previous peaceful protests.

Anatol Matasaru was reported to have been forced by the policemen who were beating him to lick their boots so that they would stop.  He has been charged with a criminal offence.

Picture caption:
One of the detainees shows severe bruising on his legs © Private

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