“They started to choke me, like a common criminal.” Interview  with Serghei Tomsa, arrested during a protest against the mixed electoral system

In the evening of July 19, two protesters were detained during the protest actions against the change in the electoral system: Stanislav Vlasov, an activist of “Our Party” (OP), and Serghei Tomsa, a local adviser and OP head of the district organization of Leova.

In the evening of July 19, two protesters were detained during the protest actions against the change in the electoral system: Stanislav Vlasov, an activist of “Our Party” (OP), and Serghei Tomsa, a local adviser and OP head of the district organization of Leova. The Vice Chairman of the political party, Ilian Casu, said that Tomsa has been detained in inhuman conditions. Several OP leaders in the regions told NM that their supporters massively refused to take part in the protests after Tomsa arrest, fearing the arrests. Portal Newsmaker.md talked with Serghei about how and why he was arrested for 10 days.

Why did they arrest you?

For disobedience to the police and resistance to the policemen. Although these are absurd accusations.

Why?

I’ll tell you that happed. I was standing to one side on the protest. I was standing near four men in civilian clothes. At some point, they began to jostle, and I fell on (the head of the municipal patrol service, Liviu Baziuc.) They began to detain me. One of them began to choke me like a common criminal. Although even criminals do not deserve this. I was dragged 15 meters beyond the cordon and then handed over to policemen in uniform. There, they handcuffed me.

Do you have any video confirming this incident?

No, unfortunately. I was standing by the side, nobody expected for this to happen. Nicolae Tipovici was near and saw, but he didn’t have time to turn on the camera.

Where did they escorted you after arrest?

In the pre-trial detention center of Buiucani police inspectorate. As one of the policeman told me (of the police inspectorate), they could not decide for a long time who would deal with my case. Nobody wanted to take it. As a result, they appointed the inspector-major, Igor Raul. Therefore, the protocol on my detention was drawn up later, four hours after the detention.

How did the trial be conducted?

My case was scheduled for trial the next day. It lasted from 14.00 to 16.00. About 23.00 the court of board rendered a decision of arrest for 10 days. This despite the fact that the court could choose alternative preventive measures: fine or unpaid community service. I provided information that I had two dependent minor children and also that I did not have any prior criminal records and that I am officer of the border service. I worked in the border service for 23 years, but the court did not take it into account.

On what basis the court took such decision, if there is no video evidence?

Based on the testimony of those law enforcement officers who were in civilian clothes and detained me.

Why out of all protesters they arrested you and Stanislav Vlasov, another activist of OP?

According to the version of prosecution, we were the biggest troublemakers, although it can be seen on the video that the police deliberately provoked people, and went through them. The policemen in the court said that we were close together and we have been arrested together, although we were generally in different places: Vlasov at the intersection of Stefan cel Mare and Sfatul Tarii, and me at the steps of the parliament.

What happened to you after the decision of the court?

The decision was rendered on Thursday. On the same day, they sent me to penitentiary institution No. 13, where I stayed until Monday. All these four days, neither my lawyer nor my family knew where I was. For some reason, I was not included in the database.

In what conditions did they keep you?

In prison, I was not given the minimum conditions for hygiene: they did not even give me a cup and cutlery. Fortunately, cellmates shared with me all I needed. There were no bed sheets, towels. I slept on an old mattress, which looks 20 years old. The blanket was soaked with sweat and dirt. There were no shower and toilet. So that you understand, this is such a demonstrative cell. Valeriu Malarciuc (a figurant in the case of Vitalie Proca-NM) was kept in such cell. 10 cells away is the cell of (Veaceslav) Platon, and (Vladimir) Filat. It was very unpleasant and humiliating, you understand? People who were punishable by life imprisonment, who are accused of rape and murder were near me. I have not my passport, therefore they took me to Registru to establish my identity. I was in dirty clothes, handcuffed, without a belt and laces.

And yet, after the release you wrote that you have no complaints about the conditions of detention. Why?

What kind of complaints could I have then? I wanted to get out and forget. But we understand why all this was done – to intimidate the opposition, the supporters of “Our Party”.

Did they succeed?

I will answer philosophically. We lost the battle, not the war.

NM sent a request to the general police inspectorate to comment on the conditions of detention and arrest of Serghei Tomsa, but no response was received at the time of publication.