24 000 Euro for ten-year old police torture


21 February 2017

Today, on 21 February 2017, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling on the complaint submitted by lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in the interests of Suren Ovakimyan from Yoshkar-Ola, who was beaten up in 2007 by the police officers aiming at obtaining his confession. The Strasbourg judges acknowledged that Russia violated several articles of the European Convention with regard to Ovakimyan and awarded him a compensation in the amount of 24 000 Euro.

(Photo: Suren Ovakimyan)

As we have previously reported, on 1 March 2008 Maria Ovakimyan applied to the Mari El regional branch of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. She informed the human rights defenders that her brother Suren had been beaten up by police officers who were trying to obtain a confession statement from him.

According to Mr Ovakimyan, on 7 September 2007 police officers forcibly brought him out of Yoshkar-Ola and started to torture. They occasionally made pauses to ask Suren if he was ready to agree to their “conditions” which they did not specify. Having failed to obtain the agreement, they attached electric wires to his fingers and turned on the current, and increased it every time they made contact. In the end, being unable to bear the torture any longer, Suren said he would agree to any conditions they had to offer. After that the man was taken to Yoshkar-Ola Prosecutor’s Office. There the man refused to give any statements – and was then brought to a temporary detention facility.

The applicant claims that the next day he was again taken to an investigator who informed the man that he was suspected of murder. Having refused to give a confession statement, the man again found himself outside the city. There he was over again beaten up and thrown into a pit. When the police officers began to strangle him with car towing ropes, Mr. Ovakimyan yielded and promised to sign the confession statement the officers wanted. During the interrogation in the Prosecutor’s Office Suren signed all the records he was offered – and was taken to custody.
All the injuries sustained by the applicant were recorded by medics. When Mr Ovakimyan first time arrived at the detention facility, medical personnel observed numerous swellings, haematomas and skin abrasions all over his body. On 9 September 2007 Suren underwent a medical inspection in the medical unit of investigative isolator № 12/1, where new injuries on his body were observed and recorded, including linear sarcothlasis of the red colour about 8 centimeters long on his neck in the laryngeal prominence area.

On 5 November 2008 the court found Suren Ovakimyan guilty and sentenced him to 16 years of imprisonment.

In their turn, in 2008 the Committee Against Torture Lawyers, having exhausted all domestic remedies available, lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights. The application was communicated to the Russian Government on 31 August 2011.

On 20 March 2012 Mr Georgiy Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, signed the Memorandum acknowledging violations of Article 3 (Prohibition of torture), Article 5 (Right to liberty and security), and Article 13 (Right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms committed by Russian public authorities in respect of the applicant Suren Ovakimyan.

Despite this, criminal proceedings concerning unlawful use of violence against Mr Ovakimyan have not been initiated. During nine years the investigating authority issued ten resolutions on refusing to open a criminal case. Notably, the last three “refusals” were issued after the Russian Federation acknowledged violations of the European Convention articles with regard to Ovakimyan.  

Today the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on this complaint. The Strasbourg judges established the violation of Articles 3, 5 and 13 of the Convention. With regard to this Suren Ovakimyan was awarded a compensation of moral damage in the amount of 24 000 Euro.

“In its today’s ruling the European Court, among other things, established that the national court, having dismissed the proceedings with regard to Ovakimyan’s complaint against the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings based on the fact of torture, failed to apply international standards and deprived him from legal means of effective investigation”, – lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments.   

“Now we intend to apply to head of the Republican Investigative Department Oleg Doronin with a request to initiate criminal proceedings and investigate the circumstances of Suren Ovakimyan’s battery by the police officers. We also will apply to the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office with a request to conduct an agency check with regard to the officials of the Republican Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Department who failed to perform effective measures for restoring the violated rights of Ovakimyan for nine years”, – lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Dmitry Yalikov emphasizes.

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