A 35-year-old man arrested for drunkenness and was tortured at a police station. His relatives are now pursuing the punishment of the law enforcement officers involved in this matter.
Author: Jengish Aydarov, correspondent of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty in the Batken region.
This investigation was prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of journalistic investigation of IWPR.
This article translated into the Kyrgyz language.
Batken: Pretensions toward the police
It was reported that in the Orukzar village of the Kadamjay region a 35-year-old man was arrested for drunkenness at the bazar and was subsequently severely beaten by the police. The beating damaged his kidneys and caused his intestines to be ripped in two different places.
On 29th of June 2016 Nurgazy Sarytayev, who hails from the Orukzar village in the Kadamjay region, went to the bazar to meet with his friends and drink hard alcohol. Being arrested by the police of the “Orukzar” area in the late evening, he was detained at the police station until relatives heard of the news and came to pick him up.
It was stated that the police held both his arms tightly and let one of them beat him the stomach. When relatives arrived at 1:00 am and handed over 5000 Som as bail to the head of the police station his condition was critical and he was promptly delivered to the local doctor.
When the doctor identified his critical condition, he immediately recommended transporting him to the next hospital. When his relatives finally managed to deliver Nurgazy to the Kadamjay regional hospital at 8:00 am. The specialists there were instantly forced to perform an operation.
According to Nurgazy, the police officers denied any responsibility and refused mediation and told him to retract the complaint he filed to the prosecution.
“On the 29th of June we went to the bazar. After finishing some urgent business, I met up with my friends and we drank a little. The police then arrested me when my friends were gone. Despite pleading with the officers the police took me to their station”, – remembers Nurgazy Sarytayev.
“Two policemen held me by each of my arms. It was Narboto who started kicking me in the stomach, – is how Sarytayev continues. Once he kicked me so hard that I lost vision and subsequently lost consciousness. As I woke up and opened my eyes, I realized that I was in a dark place. Outside, my relatives and in-laws came to visit me. They were talking to Narboto. He said that he did not want to release me. Later on, we called my uncle to bring 5000 Som. It was only when we paid up that he released me”.
According to Sarytayev, after being released from the police station he was not able to walk properly. His relatives thus accompanied him to the doctor.
“I can’t treat him, it’s not possible here, take him to the regional hospital,” he said. When we arrived at the regional hospital the next morning, they immediately performed an operation. From the very beginning, the police officers denied any responsibility and did not let us go near them. After some time they hired a mediator. “We’ll pay for his treatment, just retract your complaint to the prosecution” they said. No matter the condition I am in, it would be nice if I could fully recover after leaving the hospital”, – said Nurgazy Sarytayev.
Nurgazy Sarytayev was delivered to the Kadamjay regional hospital on 30th of June 2016 at 8:00 am. He was in such a bad condition that the doctors made the decision of performing an operation immediately. His intestines were torn in two different places and blood had coagulated around his kidney.
Azizbek Iskenderov ordered the operation after having examined Sarytayev with special medical equipment and finding blood clots.
“We extracted more than 1.5 litres of blood. There was blood coagulation around his kidney, – said Iskenderov. –We are doing everything we can. When we heard of the beating we immediately informed the police”.
This incident was only registered by the police in their files on the 30th of June. The relatives of the victim then filed a complaint directed at the police to the district prosecution on the same day. However, by 12th of July criminal proceedings had not progressed beyond two examinations. As such, on 13th of July the district prosecution transferred the case to the regional prosecution.
According to the assistant prosecutor of the Kadamjay district Ruslan Jakypov the criminal case was escalated to the regional prosecution.
“On the day of Sarytayev Nurgazy’s delivery to the hospital, his mother was the only one who filed a complaint. We have already extended the deadline for the review once because the results of the examination were not complete. Now the regional prosecution is heading the investigation”, – said the regional assistant prosecutor.
They relatives of the victim chose to make the case public and release it to the mass media since no progress had been made in the 2 weeks following the incident. They had otherwise feared the closure of the case.
The mother of Nurgazy, Karachach Sarytayeva complained about how one could get beaten up so severely for drinking a little vodka. “This was not in accord with existing law nor humanitarian law. Those responsible must be punished” she said.
-My son is a burly young man. On that day he went to bazar and drank a little alcohol with his friends. My son told me that the police then arrested him and subsequently beat him. If the times are so then I really fear for the life of my son. His health is not improving. In my opinion, the police officers are protecting each other and I fear that they may close the case. He was doing manual labor to feed his 5 wonderful kids. And now I fear that he may become a cripple. The officers responsible for this did not even come visit or ask about us and denied any responsibility in the matter.
The reply of the police
The Batken regional department for internal affairs began investigating this incident if proven to be true, the internal security service will have to fear facing disciplinary punishment.
The officer involved in the incident is Narboto Kurbanbekov, head of the police department No. 24 in the administrative district of Orukzar. He reports about the incident very differently. He claims that on 29th of June, police reacted upon a phone call made by the owner of the “Texas” restaurant, which situated near the “Torgoviy” bazar, regarding a drunk man causing a ruckus.
-The restaurant called us on the 29th of June at around 19:00. When we arrived to the scene, we found a man who was severely drunk. He was giving the people around him no rest and started driving over firewood which had been neatly set up. Then he did not give road to a small Chinese tractor and starting lifting it up and blocking the passage for others. Not to mention that onlookers started worrying that he might fall into the hole in the courtyard which is 7 to 8 meters deep. We then took him to the police station and filled out the necessary protocols and brought him to the next situated hospital where he was examined by the doctor. He gave no peace at the police station either constantly kicking at the metal bars of the holding cell. Once 2 hours had passed we were informed by one of our colleagues that one of his brothers and his brother-in-law had arrived. Before they made themselves on their way, we added that we had received complaints about the property damage that caused and that the investigation would begin tomorrow. It was 21:00 at that time and everyone had left peacefully. One of our colleagues is even acquainted with him and we have witnesses. How could we even beat a man who cannot even walk and wears shaggy clothes covered in dust. We only reacted upon a call and wanted to do service in the name of public security but instead we are met with slander. The young man may have sustained his injuries when he went on a rampage and started lifting that tractor up and down, we simply don’t know. It’s hard when out of the blue you are given a bad name just for performing our duty. For everything we have a witness. Both the restaurant owner and the onlookers witnessed his behavior with the tractor and the blockage. We will work within the basis of the law. How did it come to this? Everything they say is only slander.
What do the witnesses say?
An employee of the “Texas” restaurant was called who was present when the policemen arrested Nurgazy. In his intoxicated state, Nurgazy was shouting at the top of his lungs around the area of the restaurant. On top of that, there is a hole in the courtyard of the restaurant where waste and sewage water is collected. We then called law enforcement officers because we were worried that he might fall into the hole.
-We could not identify him in his drunken state. He started running up and down the road to block the tractors. When we told him to leave, he refused and kept on blocking the road. We didn’t want him to start moving to the area where we stored firewood or cause a ruckus among our guests. We have a hole in the courtyard where we gather waste water. It would have been really dangerous for him to fall into it. Later on the police arrested him after we had called them. He was tripping and shouting all the time. Some even said that he was carrying a stone in his hand, – said the restaurant employee.
According to the victim, the representative presiding over the criminal proceedings will, despite difficulties, supervise this case to the end.
Haitali Aykynov the ombudsman of the region underlines that the public has taken interest in the matter and as such, the case should be handled carefully.
-As to regarding this issue, the prosecution will open a criminal case immediately on the grounds that Nurgazy Sarytayev had received severe injuries. Since two examinations were performed, the case had been slightly delayed. But back then we should have paid more attention to this case since it aroused interest among the public.
Lately, the public has been paying increased attention to legal disputes. Prior to this the public would remain silent over issues in connection with law enforcement officers. Now however, these cases make it immediately into the public. Together with the public, we should not leave any room for cases like these in the future.