Today, on 28 March 2017, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling concerning the complaint lodged by human rights defenders on behalf of Anton Shestopalov, who was subjected to torture in 2004 at the District Department of the Interior of the Sovetsky District of Nizhny Novgorod. The Strasbourg judges established that Article 3 of the European Convention was violated with relation to Mr Shestopalov, and due to that he was awarded 48 550 euro as a compensation of moral damage.
(Photo: Anton Shestopalov, 2017)
In July 2004 Tamara Shestopalova applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. She said that on May 23, 2004 her under-age son Anton was detained on suspicion of rape of a girl who was his former classmate. The boy was taken to Sovetsky Department of the Interior of Nizhny Novgorod. There, according to Anton, he was forced to give confession statements to a grave criminal offense after several hours of torture and battery. Medical examination on the following day observed such injuries as сlosed craniocerebral trauma, brain concussion, and numerous injuries and bruises on chest and knees.
It should be noted that on May 26, 2004 the victim made a written statement testifying that Shestopalov did not rape her and she did not have any claims against him.
The checking of facts, reported by Anton, took the investigative authorities two years. Six refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were issued, which were subsequently appealed against by lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, and quashed as unlawful and unfounded. At last, on February 20, 2006 criminal case was initiated, but with all the time that had passed a lot of essential investigative steps that could obtain evidence against the perpetrators lost their timeliness and relevance. Subsequently the case was suspended on the grounds that all possible investigative steps had not led to identification of the perpetrators, and on 24 May 2016 the statute of limitation under this crime expired. The culprits were never found or punished.
Nevertheless, the State admitted that the teenager had been subjected to violence by unidentified police officers: on 17 November 2008 the Sovetskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod awarded him 50 thousand rubles in compensation for the moral damage inflicted by the battery at the police department.
Subsequently, with the help of human rights defenders Anton Shestopalov managed to win by court action 100 thousand rubles as a compensation for moral damage inflicted by inefficient investigation of his complaint of torture.
On 16 October 2007 lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture lodged a complaint on behalf of Mr Shestopalov with the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR). Today the ruling was passed with regard to this complaint. The Strasbourg judges unanimously established the following:
– Article 3 of the Convention was violated (the applicant was subjected to torture);
– Article 3 of the Convention was violated due to absence of efficient investigation of the applicant’s claims about the police torture;
– the applicant is still a victim of violation of Article 3 of the Convention within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention, despite the awarded compensation.
With regard to this Anton Shestopalov was awarded 48 550 euro as a compensation of moral damage.
“While qualifying the brutal treatment of Anton Shestopalov the Court pointed out that the applicant was in a very vulnerable state not only due to his age, but also because he had confidence in the police officers, voluntarily followed them ti the police department, expecting that the police officers are aimed at protecting him. However he was subjected to torture and was stripped of his rights as he was detained on suspicion of having committed a crime. The Court also emphasized that the meager compensations awarded at the national level, and the fact that the culprits responsible for tortures were never punished, do not restore the violated rights of Mr Shestopalov”, – lawyer of the department of international legal protection of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments.
– Frankly speaking, I did not expect such a ruling, because a lot of time has passed… It is by all means a very unpleasant fact that the police officers who tortured me, forcing to confess of a crime that I never committed, remained unpunished, – Anton Shestopalov shares his impressions of today’s ruling of the ECHR. – However, it is still a kind of justice, at least. I thank human rights defenders for their assistance and hope that this ruling of the European Court of Human Rights will be of help to other people in similar circumstances.