A citizen from Nizhny Novgorod repeatedly applied to the European Court with regard to failure of Russia to perform its obligations


03 September 2018

Today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a second complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Sergey Lyapin from Nizhny Novgorod, because Russian investigative bodies failed to perform effective investigation of the torture case, which made it possible for the guilty police officers to escape from responsibility. As we have previously reported, in 2014, the Strasbourg judges acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures as well as established that the investigative authorities did not conduct effective investigation of this case.

(Sergey Lyapin, photo: Mikhail Solunin)

The story of Sergey Lyapin, who applied for legal assistance to the Committee Against Torture on July 9, 2008, is as follows. According to Sergey, during the night of the 24th – 25th of April 2008 he was collecting scrap metal near one of garage blocks of Ilyinogorskoye settlement (the Nizhny Novgorod region). All of a sudden he was detained by security police officers from the Volodarskiy police department, as he was told, “on suspicion of committing thefts”, and delivered to the local police department.

According to the applicant, at the police department first he was beaten up, and then the police officers started to torture him with electricity.

“In order to increase the effect they poured water on electrical contacts and my hands. Several times I passed out”, – Sergey recalled.

Later the detainee was subject to the investigation formalities and the judge of the peace sentenced Sergey to 5 days of administrative arrest “for disobeying the police”, after that he was sent to a special detention centre to serve his sentence.

On 26 April Mr. Lyapin grew worse and from his cell he was taken first to a trauma station in Nizhny Novgorod, and then to hospital. There he was diagnosed with numerous injuries and traumas: concussion, chest contusion, thermal burns on both hands.

Upon the completion of two-days treatment course (Sergey never served full administrative sentence), Lyapin applied to the investigative authorities with a complaint against the actions of the police officers. However, the check that the Dzerzhinsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of the RF for the Nizhny Novgorod region performed based on this complaint was highly inefficient. During one and a half years investigators issued at least ten refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, nine of these refusals were declared illegal.

Having exhausted all remedies for Sergey Lyapin at the national level, human rights defenders were forced to submit a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. On 24 July 2014, the Strasbourg judges acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures in their ruling, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not conduct an efficient investigation of this fact. The applicant was awarded a compensation in the amount of 45 000 Euro.

On 20 January 2016, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation satisfied the motion for resuming the proceedings with regard to Lyapin’s complaint of torture due to the new circumstance – the European Court of Human Right’s ruling.

On 16 March 2016 investigator of the Investigative Department for Dzerzhinsk of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Roman Shamshutdinov initiated criminal proceedings based on the fact of Sergey Lyapin’s tortures.

During the preliminary investigation the criminal case was illegally suspended four times, due to which the indictment was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Volodarsky District only two years after it was opened – on 9 April 2018.

On 17 May of this year, during the court hearing defendant Vitaly Starikov asked the court to dismiss criminal prosecution against him due to expiry of the state of limitations with regard to the alleged crime. Judge Irina Ermakova satisfied this motion.

In the present time the court hearing continues only with regard to the second defendant – Oleg Kashtanov, who is active police officer. However, even in case of judgement of conviction, he will escape from responsibility due to the expiry of the period of limitations. 

“The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in case of Lyapin dated 2014 is a precedent one – it states the system problem when the Russian investigators do not open criminal cases based on legitimate torture complaint, but only conduct pre-investigative check which contradicts to the principles of effectiveness, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments. – In 2014, the European Court obliged Russia not only to pay a compensation for moral damage to Lyapin, but also to conduct effective investigation of the fact of torture, as well as to bring the guilty persons to responsibility. Russia had enough time to timely and initiatively open a criminal case and effectively investigate it. However, instead of this, the investigative bodies quashed the last refusal to initiate criminal proceedings based on Lyapin’s torture complaint only after a year, and again commenced to conduct pre-investigative checks, despite the ECHR opinion about their ineffectiveness. As a result, the criminal case was initiated only in March 2016, then it was repeatedly suspended, and received in court only a few days before the expiry of the period of limitations. Thus, Russia repeatedly violated the right of our applicant to effective investigation, with regard to which we submitted a complaint to Strasburg on his behalf once again”.

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