MISA Yoga Practitioner Wins Case at European Court of Human Rights 2
The MISA Case Delivers Another Slap on the Face of Romanian Justice (part II)
by Decebal Avramescu
After being kidnapped by her own parents, Dana Crăescu (now Dana Atudorei) was taken to a relative in the countryside, to a village called Asău (in Bacău county), where they kept her until they found a psychiatrist ready to apply a treatment “efficient” enough to “heal” her from her desire to practice yoga. During this time her family took her personal money and ID cards, and burnt her clothes which they considered to be cursed with “yoga spells”. They then called upon a priest to perform a religious service on her and a witch woman to cast magic spells over her. Her mother took unpaid holiday leave in order to constantly keep an eye on her to make sure she would not practice yoga or run away. She was guarded even when she went to toilet. At night her mother slept in the same bed as her.
Two weeks later her parents found a psychiatrist at Nifon hospital (Buzău county) who assured them that he will “take yoga out their daughter’s mind.” The hospital was approximately 40 kilometers from the city of Buzău, from where it would have been very difficult to flee and there were no means of transportation in the area. When Dana Crăescu was forcefully brought there, the hospitalization file had already been made without her being consulted at all. The hospital director, Ştefan Adrian Ionescu, admitted the young girl against her will, thereby defying the Code of Medical Ethics and the Laws of medical practice. From the very first day, Dana was forced to take Leponex three times a day – a very strong antipsychotic medicine which, according to medical ethics, is only given in cases of severe schizophrenia when the initial medication does not work.
Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that medical statistics have shown that as a result of treatments with Leponex some patients can die. The treatment was personally administered by the doctor who inserted his finger into her mouth to make sure she was not hiding the pill under her tongue. As a result, in a short time Dana became a “vegetable”. She slept for 12 hours a day, suffered from urinary incontinence, saliva poured out of her mouth at night, she had to support herself on the walls in order to reach the toilet, and parts of her memory became blank. Any communication with the exterior world was forbidden (phone calls, letters, and visits). She was kept in that hospital for 8 weeks, after which her mother and father took her back, once again without her approval, to the relative in Asău. Her mother continued to take unpaid holiday leave so she could survey her and give her Leponex, while continuing to sleep in the same bed as her.
Throughout this period of approximately 9 months, the young girl was practically held captive or, in other words, was illegally deprived of freedom. She was kept in total isolation from the outside world and had no possibility to contact her fiancé or any other person who could have saved her. As a result of the treatment she was subjected to, Dana started to have hemorrhaging menstruations for several months, almost without any break, and her stomach and liver were seriously affected. However, in October 2005 the young girl managed to run away with the help of some friends and her fiancé, whom she managed to alert when the family members who were continuously surveying her were not paying attention.
Soon after, Dana married Mugurel Atudorei, settled down in Bucharest and returned to her university classes at the Faculty of Law. However, to this day the family conflict has not eased off at all.
With regards to the medical treatment given to this young girl, the CEDO stated the following: “the young girl was administered treatment against her will in a state psychiatric institution where complete control was effectively exerted over her. The government did not dispute the fact that she was administered Leponex and other antipsychotic medication during her hospitalization. The government has failed to demonstrate – and there is no proof attached to the file – that the psychiatrist checked her decision to start such a treatment before a revision commission. Considering the abovementioned, the Court finds that the given intervention was not in accordance with the law.”
Coming back to the unfolding events… Throughout the period that Dana was subjected to this inhuman treatment, her fiancé Mugurel Atudorei alerted all the institutions that could have intervened: the Police, Mayor’s Office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (in Bârlad, Bacău and Bucharest), the Ministry of Administration and Internal Affairs, Ministry of Health, National Committee for the Fight against Discrimination, People’s Advocate, National Agency for Family Protection, the Police Office for the Civil Society, and several others. None of these institutions intervened to stop the horrifying ongoing abuse. As a result of the criminal complaints made by Mugurel Atudorei, a considerable number of attorneys and judges were required to intervene in this situation. Among these were the first attorney of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bârlad – Rodica Fântână; attorneys Elena Sandu and Marius Iacob from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bucharest, and the then leader of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bucharest, Laura Codruţa Kovesi. All appealed authorities, up to the High Prosecutor’s Office for Justice, refused to begin any criminal proceedings towards the girl’s parents, the policemen, the doctors and all the other state officials implicated and accused in the case.
As an example of the way in which state officials answered to the complaints against them, here is the response of Sergeant Gheorghe Anghel Compotecras who gave his explanation for not starting the criminal prosecution, stating that: “in this case, it has not been possible to find reasons to conclude that Dana Crăescu’s parents were acting against their daughter’s will”, even though he knew Dana was an adult and that she was held against her will (because he had seen her at Nifon hospital and had spoken to her).
Along the same lines, here is a fragment from the decision of Rodica Fântână (from the Bârlad Public Prosecutor’s Office) to not begin criminal prosecution: “In the context in which her parents found out from the press and saw on TV what happens to young persons of feminine gender at MISA’s quarters it was natural that they brought their daughter back home by any means possible to start her recovery from both the physical and psychological standpoints.”
Dana Atudorei addressed the European Court of Human Rights on 10th October 2008, after she ended her latest action for procuring justice, one of the very many that lasted for several years, towards the Romanian justice system in order to obtain an equitable solution regarding the abuse she was subjected to by her own family with the cooperation of the authorities. Represented by Adina Solomon from the Bar Association of Bucharest, the young woman claimed to CEDO no less than six violations of the Convention for defense of fundamental human rights and freedom. With only one exception, CEDO declared admissible all requested counts. The court unanimously ruled that in the case Atudorei vs. Romania two of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the European convention for human rights were violated: the right to freedom and impunity, as well as the right to the respect of private life and family life.
In the report sent by the complainant to CEDO, the general circumstances which triggered the behavior of the parents and authorities were taken into account. As a result, it was found that: “due to the irrational attack of the written and audio-visual press towards the MISA association, as well as to the discriminating convictions of a certain sector of the public authorities, an increasing number of magistrates (attorneys and judges), as well as auxiliary personnel (policemen, gendarmes and court clerks) became one-sided, lacking the ethical requirement of impartiality when they were appointed to investigate and judge cases involving yogis.”
The abuses and illegalities perpetrated by the judges in Gregorian Bivolaru's case were reported to the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM). During the trial, several disciplinary complaints were filed at the Judiciary Inspection against the members of the judge...