Unpunished Crimes: The Case of a Young Man’s Death, Delayed by Law Enforcement for Four Years
Four years ago, Fiodor Meleca, a 26-year-old man from Chistelnița, Telenești district, the north of the country, was beaten to death following a conflict between two groups of young people.
Although the suspects have been identified and there are eyewitness statements, the case has not yet been sent to court, and relatives of the victim accuse law enforcement of delaying the examination of the case, feeling anxious that the perpetrators will not be punished.
On August 28, 2016, around 4:30 a.m., in Chiștelnița village, two groups of young people, some of whom were from Orhei, started a conflict which degenerated into a fight, and as a result of the multiple injuries received during the fight, Fiodor Meleca died on the spot.
“Our family was telephoned… My husband was called to identify the body lying in the middle of the road. With great regret, it was my brother there,” remembers Olga Brădescu, the sister of the deceased young man.
The woman told us that her brother had just returned from abroad and was to get married in the fall. That night, Fiodor with two friends went to a club to Orhei, and he would have got involved in the conflict by chance. Olga Brădescu claims that her brother was mistaken for another young man, who allegedly quarreled with the group of young men from Orhei.
“That night, the group of youngsters from Orhei had a conflict with some young men from our village, at the pond. One of those young men involved in the conflict at the pond had a car just like my brother’s. When my brother drove back from Orhei, they thought he was the one involved in the conflict. They took my brother out of the car, hit him in the head and I think he lost consciousness after that. He tried to run away but fell down. The criminals dragged him into the dark and inflicted injuries all over his body with a knife. There were about eight cuts,” says Fiodor’s sister.
The family of the deceased young man insists that the forensic examination would not present all the injuries that were applied to Fiodor in full and that the examination of the case is intentionally delayed.
“We examined the body, it was before our eyes. My husband was the first called to the scene, he analyzed each lesion, where it was, and how big it was. When the first examination report came, they showed two injuries, stating that he was scratched on the knee while being dragged, and some other nuances. We did not agree because we know what the body was like and we asked to repeat the expertise,” points out Olga Bradescu, mentioning that the second expertise would be as incomplete.
No One Wished a Tragic End
The criminal case on the incident involves 25 people. Roman Onofraș, a 26-year-old man from Orhei is accused of Fiodor Meleca murder. The criminal investigation revealed that on the night of murdered Onofraș “manifested disruptive, unlawful behavior, and premeditated neglect of conduct in society, grossly violating public order, pursuing the show of bravery and gross force, in order to humiliate the honor and dignity of the person. Onofraș together with other persons, applied physical violence using fists, feet, and objects while assaulting Meleca and the others.”
After committing the crime, Onofraș evaded criminal prosecution and was announced in a national and international search. He was detained, extradited and remained in custody, but is now at large.
We went to the young man’s home address, and his father told us that his son was not at home and that he was not giving interviews. The father of the accused later referred us to his son’s lawyer.
“Regarding the delay of the criminal investigation, I want to mention that the successors of the deceased should address their lawyer, who filed complaints many times, delaying the process,” says Tudor Chirtoaca, Onofraș’ lawyer. He also stated that his client also suffered injuries following the incident that night. The defender also states that Roman was accidentally involved in that conflict and that he regrets what happened.
“My client accidentally happened to be in those circumstances. No one wanted a tragic end. It is unfortunate and my client is very sorry and suffers a lot,” added the lawyer.
Acknowledged as not Criminally Responsible When Committing the Offense
Although he is accused of Fiodor Meleca’s death, Roman Onofraș could get off the hook. Although Onofraș does not suffer from any mental illness, the psychological-psychiatric expertise found that he developed a mental disorder at the time of the crime. According to the expert report, he could not apprehend his actions, he acted indiscriminately and was recognized as not criminally responsible when committing the offense.
The relatives of the deceased young man did not agree with this conclusion, requesting repeated expertise, which also questioned the state of criminal responsibility of the accused while committing the crime. The second expertise stated that the behavior of the accused is not dangerous to society at present. The injured party’s lawyer states that these conclusions are contradictory and unclear, and there are doubts about their validity.
“If he had no money to bribe the police, he would have been convicted and put to jail a long time ago. I suspect that corruption reached high ranked people and the money is working well. This is the reason they defer the case,” considers Olga Brădescu.
While the relatives consider that the examination of the case is delayed, the representatives of the prosecutor’s office and the police affirm the opposite.
“The criminal case was under control in the General Prosecutor’s Office, and in the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation. Respectively, even if we wanted to, we would not be allowed to defer the case. Note that the case contains ten volumes,” declares Ludmila Ostap, the head of the criminal investigation section of the Telenești Police Inspectorate.
“It is not true that the examination of the criminal investigation has been delayed. The parties know quite well that many criminal prosecution actions have been carried out on the current case. The pandemic is another problem, which, in a way, has prevented us from working directly with the perpetrators in the case,” states prosecutor Petru Zmuncilă who manages this case.
According to prosecutors, the criminal case was opened in 2016 for acts of hooliganism and intentional murder. The case involves 25 people, one of whom died. Seven out of these 25 persons were charged with the murder of Fiodor Meleca. However, after one of the accused pleaded guilty, the rest was removed from this part of the claim and was accused only of hooliganism.
“There are 25 persons, seven of whom have been charged with both murder and hooliganism. It was later established who committed the murder. Afterward, according to the reports of psychiatric-judicial expertise, it was established that the perpetrator was not criminally responsible while committing the crime and together with him, six other suspects were removed from the claim of murder and remained accused of hooliganism,” the prosecutor pointed out.
In light of these conclusions, the death of Fiodor Meleca could go unpunished because the one who admitted his guilt was declared not criminally responsible and is not liable to criminal liability.
Criminals at Large
The policemen also failed to punish the murderers or identify the perpetrators in other cases. Ten years ago, two young men were found shot near the car on the route Leuseni Ialoveni Chișinău, the center of Moldova. The bodies of two other young people were discovered in a car, near St. Andrew’s Monastery in Durlești, a Chișinău suburb. According to prosecutors, the same perpetrator committed the two crimes, and six others using the same shotgun.
Almost 10 years later, prosecutors declare that they are working daily on this case, which is complex and voluminous. The perpetrator has not yet been identified.
Prosecutors and policemen also failed to find the person who murdered Igor Țurcan, former president of the Moldova Tennis Federation. The businessman was assassinated in 2011, in an explosion of a trap car in the center of Chișinău.
In January 2010, businessman Igor Basarab was shot in the head in a park in the Râșcani district, midtown Chișinău. To this day, the murderer was not found.
Requested by ZdG, representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office informed us that, “the same persons were suspected in committing the murders of Igor Țurcan and Igor Basarab. In 2012, they became joined cases, but in December 2015, the investigation was suspended because no perpetrators of the crimes were established.”
The police and prosecutors failed to hand down the culprit/s involved in the fight near the Atrium shopping center, downtown Chișinău, which led to the death of a 30-year-old man, Serghei Bejenari.
The prosecutors sent to trial two K1 fighters. The court acquitted the two persons. There is a third person involved in the case, whom the witnesses saw and the defendants cited as the main culprit. But the police did not find the person, although the person was announced in search shortly after the incident, in 2018.
In another case, the police are still looking for the man who allegedly killed a woman last summer, leaving her body in a car in Botanica district, midtown Chișinău. The case was highly mediatized. The former Minister of Internal Affairs stated that the perpetrator will be caught and brought to justice. Although a year has passed since the murder, the culprit has not been caught.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, an arrest warrant was issued for him in absentia, and he was found in Germany. Moldova requested the extradition of the accused, but the Prosecutor’s Office has not yet received a response from colleagues in Germany.
In 2019, Moldova registered 30,000 crimes, of which over 5,000 were misdemeanors, felony-misdemeanors, and felonies. Every third infraction was committed in public places. In 110 crimes, the culprits used firearms, explosives, and grenades. From these 110 crimes, 32 cases were of hooliganism, 23 cases of intentional injuries, 15 cases of murder, and eight cases of robberies.
Out of the total number of crimes, the policemen completed the criminal investigation in over 12,000 cases, and over 10,000 cases were sent to court.