Today, on 27 November 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) passed a judgment based on the complaint of Olga Korsakova, whose brother, Mikhail Timin, died in a temporary detention cell of the Department of Interior of Oktyabrskiy town in the Republic of Bashkortostan over ten years ago. Russian Federation twice violated the provisions of Article 2 of the European Convention («right to life»): having failed to provide medical assistance to Timin, which resulted in his death, and having failed to perform an adequate investigation of this fact. The lawyers of the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of Korsakova, have to acknowledge that national investigative authorities did everything in their power to let the persons guilty of this tragedy escape responsibility.
We would like to remind you that on March 16, 2004 Mikhail’s sister Olga Karsakova applied to the Bashkirian office of INGO «The Committee Against Torture». In course of public investigation the human rights defenders established that Mikhail Timin had been detained on 10 March 2004 on suspicion of committing a crime. While he was in the remand prison of Oktyabrskiy town his condition aggravated. Although doctors many times insisted on urgent hospitalization, the police did not only leave the man in the detention facility, but placed him in a solitary cell to spare themselves trouble. In the early morning on 13 March 2004 Mr. Timin died in course of a fit. A forensic medical examination showed that his heart had failed.
The prosecutorial investigation into Timin’s death was extremely ineffective. For ten years the investigative authorities kept on issuing refusals to instigate criminal proceedings which were found unlawful following complaints of the lawyers working with «The Committee Against Torture», representing Olga Karsakova’s interests.
Five years after the incident, in 2009 the city and republican courts found another refusal to instigate criminal proceedings lawful. Lawyers working with «The Committee Against Torture» had to lodge a supervisory appeal with the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan in order to have the ill-founded refusal quashed. At the same time, the Committee Against Torture filed an application at the European Court of Human Rights which was communicated in 2011.
Eight years after the incident, on February 29, 2012 immediately prior to a visit of the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of RF Aleksandr Bastrykin to the Republic of Bashkortostan, criminal case based on the fact of Timin’s death for an offence under Article 286 (3) of Russian Criminal Code was initiated at last. However, even after that numerous decisions were issued on dismissal of a criminal case on the grounds that no crime had been committed, which were subsequently quashed.
As a result by 2014 the limitation period for prosecution of the guilty party expired, the case was dismissed, and there were sixteen unlawful decisions of the investigative authorities in the human rights defenders «piggybank».
Taking this into account, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture representing Olga Karsakova’s interests, applied to the Court in order to request the compensation for moral damages inflicted through ineffective investigation.
On March 4, 2014 the Leninsky District Court of Ufa city passed a decision partly satisfying the human rights defenders’ demands. The plaintiff demanded 200 thousand rubles, and the Court awarded half of this sum – 100 thousand rubles.
On 4 July 2014 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan upheld the decision of the Court of the first instance.
In today’s decision the judges from Strasbourg have unanimously established that:
– in violation of Article 2 of the Convention («the right of life») the Russian authorities did not provide Timin with appropriate medical assistance which led to his death,
– in violation of the procedural aspect of Article 2 of the Convention the Russian authorities did not perform efficient investigation in relation to the complaint of Mikhail’s sister Olga Karsakova.
Based on this the sister of the deceased was awarded a compensation in the amount of 25 000 Euros.
One of Karsakova’s representatives in the ECHR, lawyer working with the Committee Against Torture Anatoliy Ryzhov emphasizes: «The Strasbourg judges came to the conclusion that the fact that the opening of the criminal case was refused in a situation when a person died being in charge of the authorities, makes the investigation inefficient and leads to the violation of the Convention. In other words, the ECHR conveyed a clear message: if a person dies in a police department or in a detention cell – initiate the criminal proceedings right away and investigate it thoroughly and not just crank out the formal checks».
The head of the representative office of the Committee Against Torture in Bashkortostan Dmitriy Solodkiy commented today’s decision of the European Court: «In the experience of our representation in the region it has been the first decision of the ECHR, however, knowing the poor performance of local Investigative Committee investigators, I’m afraid, this is not the last one».