A citizen from Nizhny Novgorod, convicted for a contract murder, applied to the European Court


05 December 2018
Nikolay Sharov

Today, on 5 December 2018, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights in the interests of Nikolay Sharov from Nizhny Novgorod: at first, he was declared not guilty, and then, convicted for involvement in a contract murder. Nikolay himself accuses the police officers of torture. According to human rights defenders, with regard to Sharov, Russian authorities violated the article of the European Convention, prohibiting torture and brutal treatment, as well as guaranteeing effective investigation.

On 14 July 2011, Nikolay Sharov from Nizhny Novgorod applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. According to him, on 1 July 2011, the car in which he and his wife were driving in Nizhny Novgorod, was stopped by traffic control officers. The inspector requested that Sharov went out of the car. At that time some masked people armed with machine guns ran out of the mini-van, parked nearby. They knocked Nikolay down on the ground.

On the next day, the police officers took Nikolay to Saratov. He described this trip in the following way: “On the way I was periodically beaten in the chest area, on my face, on my head, and during stops the police officers got out of the car and were hitting and kicking me through the opened door. I could not protect myself from these hits as I was handcuffed to the left and the right roof handle of the car”.  

Sharov’s wife and his acquaintance, whom the police officers were transporting in the next car, witnessed the battery. Later on, both confirmed the testimony of the victim.

In Saratov Nikolay was taken to special investigative section of the Department of Interior for the Saratov region. According to Sharov, there the battery and tortures became even more brutal and sophisticated: he was handcuffed, with handcuffs fixed behind his back, put on the floor face down; above him there was a chair in which a police officer was sitting. Then, during several hours, he was hit from time to time in the area of kidneys and ribs.   

“They put a plastic bag on my head, then rolled me in a carpet and about seven people were beating me up. Later they tortured me with some device which generates electricity. All this was happening during several days”, – Nikolay Sharov remembers.

According to Nikolay, all this time the police officers were demanding that he confessed of organizing an assassination attempt against deputy of the Saratov State Duma (during this attempt the deputy survived, but his security guard died).
On 9 July 2011, when he was in the temporary detention facility, Sharov, who did not want to suffer from torture, slashed his wrists of the left hand. Having seen that, the police officers of the Special Squad stormed into the cell. According to Sharov, trying his suicide attempt, hit him several times on his head, ribs and loin: “One of the police officers pressed my head with his knee against the floor. Then I remember, that I he hit me on the head with his knee and I lost my consciousness”.  

On the next day, Sharov’s condition got worse.

Nikolay remembers: “I remember, a doctor tells the officers: “His pressure is 80 by 70, if it gets lower, you’ll have a corpse on your hands and I’ll go to write a report”. They started to call an ambulance and it arrived. I was handcuffed to the stretcher. I came to my senses in intensive care, but alive”.  

At hospital, doctors diagnosed Nikolay with numerous contusions, scratches, as well as fracture of two ribs, the fragments of which punctured his lung.

With regard to this, on 1 August 2011, investigator of the Investigative Committee Aleksandr Rechensky initiated criminal proceedings against unidentified police officers under item “a” part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”).

The investigation lasted for over three and half years, six investigators changed in the case during this time.  

On 5 December 2014, the investigator of the special department for investigating the crimes of law-enforcement officers, Dmitry Averyanov issued a ruling on dismissal of the criminal case.

Dismissing the criminal case on tortures, Mr Averyanov came to the following conclusion: “By providing invented and ungrounded evidence about applying violence against him, Sharov was trying to discredit the police officers and pursued the goal to escape from criminal responsibility”.

That’s how investigator Averyanov explained numerous bodily injuries on Sharov: “It cannot be ruled out that these injuries might accidentally be generated during legal actions of the police officers when Sharov was apprehended in Nizhny Novgorod, during restriction of his liberty of movement when he was taken from Nizhny Novgorod to Saratov, during stopping the demonstrative suicidal attempt in the Temporary Detention Facility in the Department of Interior of Russia for the Saratov, as well as during the use of handcuffs. In this case the police officers did not exceed the authority which is provided to them”.    

The investigator also raised the third version of how Sharov obtained his bodily injuries – that he had them before the apprehension already. But the investigator did not provide any evidence for this version, he only mentioned it.  

For four years the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture were trying to appeal against this ruling on dismissal of the criminal case, however, it remained in force.

Having failed to restore Nikolay Sharov’s rights at the national level, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied today on his behalf to the European Court of Human Rights.  

“Despite the fact that in this case the criminal case based on torture complaint was opened practically immediately, the investigator failed to identify the culprits for three and a half years.  Despite numerous collected pieces of evidence, no adequate evaluation of the applicant was made and the case was dismissed altogether, – comments lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Ekaterina Vanslova. – Thus, the investigator, dismissing the criminal case, raised as many as three different theories with regard to how Sharov obtained his injuries, at the same time, none of the proposed options are grounded on any kind of evidence”.  

It is worth noting, that on 23 August 2013, the Saratovsky District Court completely acquitted Nikolay Sharov with regard to the charged crime and released him in the court room. Nikolay was rehabilitated; he claimed a compensation for moral damage for illegal criminal prosecution and two-years-long detention in the detention facility in the amount of 300 000 rubles.   

However, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia submitted this criminal case for new examination.  

On 26 June 2015, the Saratov Regional Court declared Nikolay Sharov guilty of crimes under part 1 Article 209, sub-items “a, b, v” part 4 Article 162, part 3 Article 30, sub-items “a, e, zh, z” part 2 Article 105, sub-items “e, zh, z” Part 2 Article 105 of the Criminal Code of Russia, part 3 Article 222 of Criminal Code of Russia, part 3 Article 33, part 2 Article 167 of the Criminal Code of Russia, and convicted him to 22 years of imprisonment in the maximum security penal colony.

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