Bulgaria to Face ECHR over Death of 19-year-old in Childcare Institution

Bulgaria in EU | October 4, 2012, Thursday // 13:55|  views

Krasimir Kanev, Chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee is starting a new case against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights over the death of a 19-year-old at a state-run institution for children with disabilities.

Nikolina, accommodated at the institution in the northeastern village of Straja, died from malnutrition according to the autopsy, the expert medical witness and the prosecutor's office.

The prosecuting authority failed to find evidence of criminal wrongdoing and terminated the pre-trial proceedings.

Prosecutors concluded that the malnutrition which caused Nikolina's death was due to mental retardation.

The findings were confirmed by the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation.

The BHC argues that Nikolina's malnutrition death was wrongfully attributed to mental retardation in order to "normalize and justify" the incident.

The human rights NGO also claims that the officials of the institution where Nikolina had been accommodated neglected her and did nothing to prevent or treat the deadly condition.

Nikolina was hospitalized for a whole body infection and a severe coagulation dysfunction, after not eating for two months, suffering whole-body hemorrhage and being totally unable to move.

The prosecuting authority ignored the inaction of the institution's staff and paid no attention to the fact that everything started from an ear injury which triggered the infection processes, the BHC notes, adding that "ear injuries are not supposed to be causes of death."

Nikolina died at the same state-run institution which had taken care of 15-year-old Aneta Yordanova.

Aneta Yordanova died in 2006 from gastrointestinal perforation after swallowing 25 insoles, 8 cloth rags, 3 dishwashing sponges, 6 socks, 3 pieces of paper and 3 stones (3-4 cm in size).

The prosecuting authority terminated the investigation of Aneta's death 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.

The BHC filed a lawsuit over Yordanova's death at the Strasbourg-based human rights court earlier this year.

In its claim to the ECHR, the BHC insists that the state is responsible for Nikolina's malnutrition death and for the inhumane treatment and negligence she had been exposed to.

The BHC also argues that the state is to be held accountable for the failed investigation of the death and the maltreatment of the 19-year-old.

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Tags: Krasimir Kanev, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, orphanage, Strasbourg, European Court of Human Rights, BHC


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