Charges of criminal negligence are being prepared in Bulgaria over nearly 200 cases of death and abuse in institutions for children with learning disabilities.
Prosecutors have made the move following a six month investigation into years of abuse in more than 25 care homes. It was carried out by the country’s branch of the Helsinki Committee for human rights.
“We saw things that were incomprehensible to me,” said the chief prosecutor. The report uncovered more than 30 cases where children had died from malnutrition, as well as dozens of other instances of violence or mistreatment. In some cases children had been tied up for months.
“In a large majority of cases, perhaps 80 percent” the prosecutor went on, “no-one did anything to inform the police or prosecution about the death, so that an investigation could be carried out.”
The report called the mistreatment of children “mechanical” and “absurd”, adding that three quarters of deaths could have been avoided.
The Bulgarian child protection agency blamed a lack of trained staff. It said many centres whose practices hadn’t changed since communist times were being closed.