15 thousand rubles for six years of authorities' inaction in the case of torture in the Chechen special police force premises

Событие | Пресс центр

26 May 2014

On 22 May 2014 the Leninskiy District Court of Grozny partly sustained claim for compensation for moral damage inflicted through ineffective investigation, lodged by lawyers with the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) on behalf of Alikhan Akhmedov. Court ordered the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation to pay the plaintiff only 15 thousand rubles of the initially requested 100 thousand. Human rights defenders intend to appeal against this decision.

(Alikhan Akhmedov, November 2007. According to Mr Akhmedov, the picture was taken in the basement of Chechen special police forces (OMON) premises by people who were beating him. Photo courtesy of OpenSpace)

As we have previously reported, on 10 November 2011 Grozny resident Alighan Akhmedov contacted lawyers working with the JMG seeking legal assistance in connection to his ill-treatment by servicemen of special police forces (OMON) unit of the Ministry of the Interior of the Chechen Republic, in November 2007.

Alikhan Akhmedov’s story is, unfortunately, the sad Chechen reality, which local authorities are trying to ignore.

Since September 2004 Alikhan had been working as an operative criminal investigator at the Zavodskoy District Department of the Interior of Grozny, dealing with grave and especially grave offenses. In November 2007, while investigating the murder of Khatayev, a squadron commander of the 1st Police Patrol Service Regiment under the Chechen Ministry of the Interior, he detained a certain Said-Emin Mazayev. Unluckily for Akhmedov and his colleague Imran Arsamerzuyev, the detainee appeared to be an OMON serviceman, belonging to the same teip with the almighty Chechen OMON commander – Alikhan Tsakayev.

The situation further developed in accordance with the standard scenario. Akhmedov and Arsamerzuyev were detained in a cafe with the use of violence and fire weapons, taken to the Chechen OMON base and subjected to torture. In his explanation Akhmedov wrote: «Two OMON officers took me by the arms and dragged me to the trees. They tied my hands behind my back with a rope, put a cloth into my mouth. Then they hitched that very rope over a bough and started pulling it so that I found myself hanging in the air. After that all OMON officers started beating me. For about three hours they were taking turns to beat me, hitting and kicking on my head and body, accompanying this with curses. I fainted 3 or 4 times, they poured cold water on me from a bucket, so that I regained consciousness. During the beatings one of the officers twice put out his cigarettes against my neck».

What is more, Alikhan Akhmedov and Imran Arsamerzuyev, as well as another colleague of theirs, were found guilty of unlawful violence against Said-Emin Mirzayev and given suspended sentences. As for the real victims, on 11 October 2008 senior investigator of the Leninsky Interdistrict Investigation Department Madayev suspended the pre-trial investigation into the allegations of Akhmedov’s and Arsamerzuyev’s ill-treatment by OMON officers on the grounds that all possible investigative steps had not led to identification of the perpetrators.

The investigation had not checked all the facts of the case, including the victim’s statement that he had been kidnapped by the Chechen Special Police Force Unit. Besides, the investigation had collected a complex of evidence of Akhmedov’s abduction and ill-treatment by Chechen OMON in their premises. However, lawyers with the JMG believe that the investigating authorities intentionally evaded identification of persons responsible for Akhmedov’s abduction and subsequent unlawful detention. At the same time, the mere fact of Akhmedov’s being forcibly taken to the OMON premises with the use of violence is already a criminal offense.

During the criminal investigation the authorities issued numerous decisions to suspend the proceedings, which were subsequently quashed; investigators were repeatedly instructed to carry out investigative activities. Human rights defenders considered the investigation ineffective and claimed in court compensation for moral damage, inflicted through the unlawful omissions of authorities.

On 22 May 2014 another hearing was held in the Leninskiy District Court of Grozny city. The hearing was attended by representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Investigative Committee, and of the defendant – the Ministry of Finance. The representative of the Prosecutor’s Office agreed with the plaintiff’s arguments, but submitted that the amount was excessive. The defendant supported the same opinion. As regards the Investigative Committee, its representative asked the court to dismiss the claim. The judge, having spent quite a short time in the retiring room, passed the decision partly sustaining the claim for just satisfaction.

Lawyers representing Alikhan Akhmedov stress that the sum awarded is too small, and intend to appeal against the decision.