A loose lip gets the first whip?

Событие | Пресс центр

01 March 2015

The case of Pavel Seliverstov, who applied to the Committee Against Torture complaining about brutal battery in Orenburg penal colony No.4, took another unpleasant turn: he used to be classified as a complainant in a criminal case initiated in relation with unlawful violence in a detention center and once again dismissed by the Investigative Committee, now he has been reclassified as a defendant under Article «Deliberately misleading accusation». Human rights defenders representing the interests of Seliverstov are convinced that the criminal case against the penal colony officers was dismissed unlawfully, since important and necessary investigative actions required for establishment of truth were not conducted. And criminal prosecution under Article «Deliberately false denunciation», in the opinion of the lawyers of the Committee Against Torture is nothing else but an attempt of a public reprisal against the man who took the liberty of complaining against the lawlessness in the Federal Service for Execution of Punishment.

(Checking the testimony on site with Pavel Seliverstov (bending above the actor). On the very left — his representative, head of the Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatullin)

As we have previously reported, on 24 December 2012 mother of the defendant Pavel Seliverstov Valentina Mikhailovna applied to Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture. She told that prior to being put to the punitive confinement in penal colony No.4 of Orenburg her son was brutally beaten up. As a result of this battery his rib was broken, which punched through Pavel’s lung and nearly got him killed. On the same day Valentina Mikhailovna applied to investigative authorities with a crime report. In the beginning of January when Pavel recovered from surgery a little, he also lodged a similar complaint. However, for some reason the investigative authorities were not in a hurry to start working: for example, the crime report check was started two weeks later, and not immediately, as the law requires it.

But even having initiated the criminal case only two months after the incident, the Investigative Committee officers continued to systematically violate the rights of the defendant, in regard to which the lawyers of the international legal protection of the Committee Against Torture lodged a complaint to the European Court of the Human Rights.

As a result over two years four investigators changed in this criminal case, which was dismissed twice. First time, due to human rights defenders and high interest of the public, this decision was deemed illegal and the case was transferred to the first department for major crimes of the Investigative Department under the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Orenburg region. The last similar procedural decision passed only a month after resumption of proceedings in the case is at the moment being appealed against by lawyers of the Committee Against Torture. Unfortunately, the district court found the criminal case dismissal to be legal, and human rights defenders are going to appeal against it in the appellate court.

«We think that the investigation did not take into account a lot of pieces of evidence important for establishment of the truth. Apart from the fact that line-ups between either Pavel Seliverstov and the suspected, or between Pavel and witnesses who allegedly saw Pavel falling from the stairs, were never conducted; the investigators did not seize records of video surveillance cameras, which should have captured either Pavel falling from the stairs or his battery by the penal colony officers, – head of Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin comments. – They did not seize records from event data recorder which was attached on the ammunition of the punitive confinement duty officer who was present on the day when Pavel sustained bodily injuries in the punitive confinement, and who, according to Pavel, was observing his battery. In addition, the investigator refused to conduct the expert examination of the doorway and the door, through which one of the witnesses, according to his testimony, saw the beginning of Pavel’s battery, but which, according to the answer of the Deputy Head of the penal colony, was subjected to design changes after the crime was committed. Therefore, the witness could not demonstrate how he saw the beginning of Pavel’s battery. The investigator did not take into account the results of a number of expert reviews, which declared the version of the officers of the Federal Service for Execution of Punishment inconsistent. It is worth noting that the human rights defenders conducted surveys at their own expense in the state medico-legal institution, and the experts unanimously supported Pavel Selivesrtov’s version that bodily injuries might have been sustained in the circumstances which he indicated.

Moreover, conclusions of one of the expert examinations conducted by the investigative authorities are called ungrounded by Doctor of Medicine Sergey Leonov in his report. However, the investigative authorities, having at their disposal all the data necessary for conducting expert examination, did not conduct additional or repeated expert examination in order to eliminate the existing inconsistencies. It is also worth noting that, unlike Pavel, the officers of the Federal Service for Execution of Punishment repeatedly changed their evidence, adjusting their version to the new data that was established by the investigative authorities».

In connection with this the human rights defenders have to state that the investigative authorities made minimum efforts to check Seliverstov’s version, however they readily accepted highly inconsistent version of the detention center officers. That is how it was described by Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Kostyuchenko in her article «Demons cracked his rib»: «According to detention center officers Seliverstov was drunk and fearless. «He insulted the officers with curses, threatened the officers with reprisal, and addressed the convicts with riotous statements». At first, Sakultsan (penal colony officer – comment of the Committee Against Torture) wrote in his explanatory note: «Having uttered threats the convict pushed me and ran down the stairs from the second floor to the first floor, where he slipped down and fell». After some time Sakultsan and his subordinate Dusimov changed their mind — no, «rolled down and fell over», agency check specified — «hit his chest against the steps». But forensic medical expert Bakunovich concluded that this way a rib cannot punch a lung and therefore, the testimony of the penal colony officers is inconsistent. And the testimony changed again: «I managed to catch Seliverstov by his left sleeve, the convict wrenched himself free, continued violent motion, stumbled against the doorsill, at this time his body was turning and having failed to maintain balance the convict fell. At first, he fell against the railing (made of steel fittings). I tried to intercept him, but failed, at this moment Seliverstov rolled down the stairs head over heels, hitting different parts of his body against steps and walls». That’s the ballet they described».

It is worth reminding that the investigators and the judge of the district court regard this version as realistic. Tomorrow, on 12 March 2015, the criminal case against Pavel Seliverstov will be examined in Dzerzhinsky District Court. Pavel became a defendant in a criminal case under Article «Deliberately false denunciation». After the much talked-of case of 39 old Mardiros Demerchyan from Sochi, who was sentenced by the court to 300 hours of compulsory community service for allegedly false accusation of policemen, the case of Pavel can become another warning bell of a trend emerging in Russia – institute criminal proceedings against those who dared to complain against violence and torture.

Timur Rakhmatulin continues: «In court we are going to voice support for Pavel Seliverstov and make every effort to convince the court that Pavel never defamed anyone, but only sought for protection of the state and support in the attainment of justice. We will provide the court with data which in our opinion indicate that the criminal case against the penal colony officers was dismissed prematurely, which made it possible to initiate criminal proceedings against our applicant under Article «Deliberately false denunciation».