The Nizhny Novgorod regional court has decreased the compensation award for Yury Benediktovich from 40 thousand to 22 thousand rubles. The amount is supposed to compensate for the moral damage sustained by the victim as a result of delays and omissions committed by the Arzamas Interdistrict Investigation Department of the Russian Investigation Committee while investigating into his torture claim.
It must be noted that the compensation could amount to as little as 4 thousand rubles, since the respondent party – Russian Finance Ministry – had lodged two appeals against the decision of the Sovietsky district court of Nizhny Novgorod, but it failed to provide required documents to the court on time and one of the appeal was dismissed without being heard on the merits.
You may remember that, according to Mr. Benediktovich, he was abused by the Arzamas police twice. After he was beaten for the first time, a check was initiated which resulted in repeated ill-treatment by the same policemen. Following communication with law enforcers Yury several times found himself in hospital, his injuries were crushed toes, a knee fracture, multiple bruises on the head, body and a closed creaniocerebral injury. The father of two small children, Yury was unable to work normally, since for more than 1.5 years he was seeking redress of his rights from the law enforcement system represented by investigative authorities, and sustained grave moral sufferings in connection with those events.
However, the judicial system assessed the situation differently. Here is a quotation from the decision of the Nizhny Novgorod regional court: “According to the judicial college, the compensation of 20000 rubles is excessive compared to the infringement of Yury Benediktovich’s rights and interests committed by law enforcers, therefore the compensation award should be diminished to 2000 rubles <…> The given award for moral damages, taking into account its compensatory nature, is proportionate, in the opinion of the judicial college, and balances the responsibility imposed on the Russian authorities and the degree of moral suffering”.
We are not going to comment on the judicial assessment regarding the fair and adequate nature of the compensation award. We simply point out that the ECtHR considers ineffective investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment a separate violation of the European Convention. For instance, in Khatayev v. Russia the ECtHR awarded the applicant 15000 euro for the suffering incurred to him by the ineffective investigation of his torture complaint. Once again we witness a huge difference in the understanding of respect for human rights and their protection in the Russian and European judicial systems.
Meanwhile, criminal proceedings upon the fact of Benediktovich’s ill-treatment by the police have not been instigated yet, and INGO “Committee Against Torture” continues disclosing errors of the official investigation and appealing against unlawful investigator’s decisions.