Today, on 12 December 2017, the European Court passed a ruling regarding the complaint submitted by lawyers with the Committee Against Torture on behalf of Ruslan Lebedev from the Republic of Mari El who was beaten up by the police officers in 2007. The Strasbourg judges established that Russia violated several articles of the European Convention with regard to Mr Lebedev – “prohibition of torture” and “right to liberty and security” – having awarded the applicant thirty thousand euro as a compensation for moral damage.
As we have previously reported, in 2007 Ruslan Lebedev from Novy Toryal settlement in the Republic of Mari El applied to the Committee Against Torture. He reported to human rights defenders that in the night from 30 March to 31 March he was brutally beaten up by the police officers.
According to Ruslan, that night he was going back from the neighboring village on a car in the company of three guys. Sometime later one of the passengers noticed that a car with a rotating beacon on was following them, however, the driver continued driving and stopped only in Novy Toryal itself, since he was out of petrol. Right after that VAZ-2115 car stopped nearby, a police officer in a uniform came out. Ruslan and his friends also came out of the vehicle. The police officer started to question them on the reason why they did not stop. The conversation was dropped practically right away, for 3-4 minutes later a police vehicle UAZ came by, and several police officers ran out of it and having pushed the young people on the ground started to beat them up with hands and feet. Then the whole group was taken to the Department of the Interior of the Novotoryalsky region of the Republic of Mari El, where the battery continued. In particular, Ruslan was “grilled” about the car in which they were driving and its driver.
After such communication with law-enforcement officers Ruslan had to undergo hospital treatment, where he was diagnosed with closed craniocerebral trauma, cerebral contusion, brain concussion, numerous bruises of the face and hematomas, hematoma of the occipital region from the left, temporal regions, numerous bruises of the back, neck, shoulder, right side surface of the body, bruise of the waist area, bruise of the right earflap.
On 31 March Ruslan’s mother Raisiya Lebedeva applied with a crime report to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Novotoryalsky region. However, the criminal case was never opened: at first the Prosecutor’s Office issued six refusals to open a criminal case, considering that Ruslan obtained his bodily injuries as a result of legal actions of law enforcement officers.
In December 2007, human rights defenders submitted a complaint on behalf of Ruslan Lebedev to the European Court of Human Rights. In January 2013, it was communicated and the Russian authorities were provided with questions on the circumstances of the story.
Work at the domestic level continued, too. Human rights defenders were appealing against the last refusal, issued on 20 May 2013, for over three years: at first it was declared legal by district and republican courts, later on – by the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Directorate for the Mari El Republic. Only after the complaint to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings dated 20 May 2013 was declared illegal and quashed on 8 February 2017 and the materials were returned to the Sovetsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Mari El for resuming the check.
However, the criminal case has been never opened, three more additional checks were performed, which resulted in refusals to initiate criminal proceedings – at the same time all these refusals were issued after expiry of the period of limitation for bringing the culprits to criminal responsibility on this category of cases.
Today, the European Court passed a ruling on Ruslan Lebedev’s complaint. The Strasbourg judges unanimously established that Russia violated Article 3 of the Convention in the part of prohibition of brutal treatment, as well as in the part of the obligation to perform efficient investigation. In addition, the Court established the violation of paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Convention with regard to the applicant in the part of illegal detention. As a result, the ECHR awarded thirty thousand euro to Lebedev as a compensation of moral damage.
“Russian authorities insisted that Lebedev got his bodily injuries during apprehension, when physical force was applied against him, allegedly, on legal grounds. However, even if we suggest that Lebedev got so many bodily injuries during apprehension, it is obvious that such level of violence is not proportionate and amounts to violation of Article 3, which was established by the Court in today’s ruling, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Ekaterina Vanslova emphasizes – The European Court also emphasized that the administrative case against Lebedev was initiated a month after his apprehension, and the apprehension itself was not even documented and was not aimed at reaching any legal objective”.