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"Totally insufficient" investigation of a suspicious death and the reform of criminal investigations

Trufin v. Romania  | 2009

"Totally insufficient" investigation of a suspicious death and the reform of criminal investigations

It is an injustice. My brother was killed, but the perpetrators are still at large.

Tatiana Trufin, quoted by Botosani News, October 2009.

Background

A man was found unconscious in the outskirts of Botoşani. His wallet was found nearby, and there were blood stains all around him. A medical examination found that he had suffered a blow to the head with a hard object, and multiple blows to other parts of his body.

Despite evidence of an attack, the police initially found that the man had died after falling. For almost twelve years, very little was done to investigate what had really happened.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court found that the evidence strongly indicated the death had been suspicious. Despite this, the investigation into the incident had been totally insufficient and incapable of finding out who had been responsible.

Follow-up

From 2009 onwards, regulations were adopted to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations into lethal offences.

Legislative changes already underway at the time of the Strasbourg judgment were influenced by the court’s findings. A new Code of Criminal Procedure entered into force in 2014, with numerous provisions designed to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations. In particular, criminal investigators can be stripped of their powers if they fail to follow a prosecutor’s orders. Autopsies were also made mandatory in cases of violent death or suspicion of violent death.

Additional information