Bulgaria Renews Investigation of Death of 15-Year-Old under Institutional Care

Society | May 21, 2012, Monday // 15:56|  views

Bulgaria's Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Galina Toneva, has confessed that the prosecutors assigned to the case conducted a one-sided investigation. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's prosecuting authority has renewed the investigation of the death of a 15-year-old girl in a state-run institution for children with disabilities.

Bulgaria's Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Galina Toneva, explained Monday that the flaws in the investigation were due to personal errors, not institutional errors.

Last week, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) voiced plans to file a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) due to the refusal of the prosecuting authority to investigate the death of the girl.

15-year-old Aneta died in 2006 from gastrointestinal perforation.

She was subjected to an operation, which failed to save her life, but recovered the following items from her stomach: 25 insoles, 8 cloth rags, 3 dishwashing sponges, 6 socks, 3 pieces of paper and 3 stones (3-4 cm in size).

The prosecution terminated the investigation on the grounds that there was no evidence about criminal wrongdoing on the part of the doctors.

However, the activities of the staff of the institution in the northeastern village of Straja were left unexamined.

After the human rights NGO threatened to sue the state in Strasbourg, the prosecution decided to reexamine the case and cancelled the termination of the proceedings.

"I would like to thank our partners from the BHC," Galina Toneva stated.

She admitted that the prosecutors in charge had conducted a one-sided investigation but noted that they had been given instructions on the case.

Toneva made clear that there was no reason to redirect the case to another prosecutor's office.

"The three prosecutors in hierarchical order made a mistake on the case but no one shall be penalized until the new investigation is over," Toneva stressed.

She noted that the prosecutor that would be assigned to the case would be selected at random.

In 2010, the BHC and Bulgaria's prosecuting authority vowed to look into the investigations of 238 deaths of children under institutional care.

Within the checks, the prosecution upheld the termination of the investigation of the death of 15-year-old Aneta.

The proceedings were renewed only after a second tip-off on the part of the BHC.

Asked to comment on the matter by journalists of Capital daily, Toneva remained evasive about the guarantees that the other 237 cases had been examined impartially and did not require double-checking.

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Tags: Galina Toneva, Deputy Chief Prosecutor, state institutions, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, BHC, European Court of Human Rights, ECHR


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