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Supreme Court decision makes a mockery of human rights

Chronology of an unpunished case of police abuse

Dear Reader, The PERSON with whose rights our supremest court mocked at is on the photo you are looking at. It was made about three years ago on a Sofia street. Sometime about noon on 14 February 2005 the PERSON was cuffed to a lamp post. In a position that not even a dog would be tied in. The dog at least has the limited freedom of its leash. The PERSON, on the other hand, had no room for movement. Passers-by glanced at the strange PERSON who was

begging for help. Most of them just passed by... They were thinking there must be some reason that THE PERSON was cuffed to the lamp post. Others would stop beside the PERSON, but a police officer would step out of the local police station saying that this was police business and they should stay out of it. Still, one passer-by managed to exchange a few words and take a couple of pictures of the PERSON. Contrary to what we all may think, the PERSON is not a dangerous criminal. The PERSON is a 25-year-old woman. According to her statements, immediately before her being handcuffed to the lamp post, she had been held in the police reception room where the police officer on duty had behaved in a rude and humiliating manner for nearly two hours, hitting her in the 1 OBEKTIV

head and stomach, insulting her, and refusing to take the handcuffs off. After going through all this, the girl didn’t really believe that the man was a real police officer. She asked to call the police emergency line. He let her dial but after each attempt he would press the handset rest and cut the connection. Finally, he cuffed her to the lamp post. The two pictures and the paperwork concerning her detention were in the core of the lawsuit, which the girl filed against the police officer. It took the Bulgarian judicial system three years to pass a final judgement acquitting the officer, contrary to the first two court instances. 1. The first-instance Sofia Military Court sentenced the police officer to TWO YEARS IMPRISONMENT, with the sentence being deferred for 4 years, and decreed a compensation for the claimant to the amount of 2,000 Leva (the equivalent of 1,000 Euro). 2. The second-instance Sofia Military Court of Appeal amended the sentence to SIX MONTHS IMPRISONMENT, which was deferred to 3 years, but it kept the original amount of the compensation. 3. The third-instance Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) decreed an acquittal for the police officer. In the final judgment, the SCC judges assumed that the police officer was performing his operational duties toward the detained individual, and what happened was within the limits of his work. Such a decision is in itself a violation and mockery of human rights. It is equal to saying that police officers need not worry about violating the law and tying people to lamp posts like they would tie their dog in front of the greengrocer’s. Dear Reader, I do not doubt that you will agree that the supreme judges of cassation should be forced to pay the damages, which this girl will be awarded by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg from their own salaries for having, along with the above mentioned police officer, mocked her human dignity. by Stanimir PETROV


Supreme Court decision makes a mockery of human rights