A year ago, Moldovan Vitali Novacov died after a police operation in Königs Wusterhausen. The agents have not been questioned to date.

Coat of arms of the Brandenburg police on the police uniform.  symbolic photo

The circumstances under which Vitali Novacov died are still unclear Photo: Sebastian Gabsch/imago

SEDAN taz | Ivan Novacov has lost confidence in the German authorities. A year ago, his brother Vitali died after a police operation in Brandenburg, but the investigation is not progressing. Ivan Novacov lives in Moldova, almost 2,000 kilometers from where his brother died on April 12, 2023. He finally wants to know what happened. “Nobody gives us any information,” he says by phone. “We didn't even get an apology, nothing. “They just ignore us.”

Vitali Novacov was Ivan's younger brother. Since the beginning of 2023 he lives in Königs Wusterhausen, a small town about 30 kilometers south of Berlin. He had come to town to work. Novacov was a construction worker who worked in Russia and Bulgaria before coming to Germany.

On the night of April 11, Novacov is said to have rioted in front of his house. Residents call the police. They arrest the 45-year-old man and help two local residents. Novacov is tied to the floor in a prone position. As he resists, the officers push him down and push his head into the sand. This is what emerges from the investigation files, extracts of which are available to the taz.

One of the residents allegedly hit Novacov in the face with his fist until he began to bleed. Novacov loses consciousness and his heart stops. He calls an emergency doctor. The police officers begin to revive Novacov, but are unable to do so. The doctor finally gets it. He takes the man to a Berlin hospital. The next day, Vitali Novacov dies.

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The fact that the case became public was also due to the taz investigation. In April 2023, the taz reported on the inconsistencies that had arisen around Novacov's arrest. The statements of the police and the prosecutor about that night contradicted each other. The emergency doctor also noted in his mission report that Vitali Novacov was still handcuffed when the police attempted to resuscitate him. It would be fatal; resuscitation can hardly be successful. The police claimed that his handcuffs had been removed.

Doctors who declared death at the hospital noted that the cause of death was lack of oxygen to the brain. Novacov suffocated by “forcing his face and chest against the ground in a prone position.” That's what he says on the death certificate.

The question that has plagued his family ever since is: who is to blame for Vitali's death? An apparently healthy man, 45 years old, father of a teenage girl. Vitali Novacov's family has filed a complaint. Only then did the Cottbus prosecutor launch a murder investigation. He is investigating the police officers and residents who are said to have arrested Novacov together. But the investigation is progressing slowly.

Even a year later, according to taz information, not all important witnesses have been heard. This is also confirmed by Julian Muckel of the Brandenburg Victim Perspective Association, which advises the Novacov family. To date, the prosecutor has not interviewed any of the police officers involved. The officers remain on duty, according to a Victims Perspective report on the one-year anniversary of Novacov's death.

The Cottbus prosecutor's office did not comment to the TAZ. The Novacov family's lawyer, Falko Drescher, also has this experience. In August he asked the Brandenburg Public Prosecutor's Office to take over the case. The police investigations were “strained and useless”, the prosecutor's office showed no interest in clarifying the matter and it was necessary to avoid further confusion, he wrote in a complaint to the supervisory authority. The Attorney General's Office rejected his request.

For Vitali Novacov's family, the silence of the authorities is almost unbearable. His father, says Ivan Novacov, the deceased's brother, was saddened by the whole thing. He keeps asking her what's new in Germany. Iván says that he can barely stand not being able to tell her anything.