After 8 years a criminal case on electricity torture in the Nizhny Novgorod police is initiated


25 March 2016

Lawyers of the Committee for Prevention of Torture received a copy of the ruling on initiating criminal proceedings based on the fact of electricity torture of Sergey Lyapin from Nizhny Novgorod in 2008 in the Volodarsky District police department. Human rights defenders, representing Lyapin’s interests, are convinced that initiating criminal proceedings became possible due to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (the EHCR), which in 2014 acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s torture and established that the investigative authorities did not perform adequate investigation at the national level, due to that the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on 20 January of this year passed a ruling to initiate the proceedings based on Lyapin’s complaint.

(Photo: Sergey Lyapin and lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov)

The story of the father of four kids (now Lyapin has seven kids already), who on 9 July 2008 applied to the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Committee Against Torture, runs as follows. According to Sergey, during the night of the 24th – 25th of April he was collecting scrap metal near one of garage blocks of Ilyinskoye of the Volodarskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod region. All of a sudden he was detained by officers from the Volodarskiy police department, as he was told, «on suspicion of committing thefts» and taken to the local police department.

According to the applicant, he was beaten up in the police department, and then tortured with electricity. Sergey recalls: «The detective officers tried to increase the effect of current by pouring water on my hands and electrical contacts. I lost consciousness several times».

After that the police conducted a series of investigative actions with the detainee. Later the justice of peace sentenced Mr. Lyapin to 5 days of administrative arrest for «resistance to the police» and he was transferred to a special detention facility to serve his sentence.

The following day Mr. Lyapin got worse and an ambulance took him first to the first-aid station and later he was taken to hospital. The hospital’s doctors diagnosed multiple traumas and injuries: «cerebral concussion, contusions of the neck and chest, thermal burns on both hands…»

When Sergey got out of hospital after two days of treatment (he never served the full time of his administrative punishment) he applied to the investigation authorities with a complaint against the police officers. However, the Dzerzhinsky Interdistrict Department of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office for the Nizhny Novgorod region performed a highly inefficient check in its regard. Within one and a half years period investigators issued at least ten refusals to open a criminal case, 9 of them have been found unlawful.

Having exhausted the domestic remedies human rights defenders had to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. As the result the Strasbourg judges in their ruling acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not perform efficient investigation of this fact. The applicant was awarded a compensation in the amount of 45 000 euro.
One of Sergey Lyapin’s representatives at the ECHR Anton Ryzhov pointed out at that time: «Firstly, Strasbourg has utterly defeated the arguments of the Russian party, having acknowledged that Sergey is right. Moreover, the Court acknowledged that the degree of violence against Lyapin amounted to torture, including due to applying of electricity. The ECHR also pointed out that the absence of initiated case in itself became the cause of inefficiency of the subsequent investigation».

«However, even after the ruling of the European Court the Russian law-enforcement agencies still have not commenced the investigation and have not brought the guilty party to justice. The above-mentioned ruling was ignored by the investigation, and the sum of compensation, awarded by the ECHR, became the responsibility of common tax-payers and not of the police officers guilty of tortures, with silent indulgence of the Investigative Committee, – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov, representing Sergey Lyapin’s interests, comments. – Neither the applicant nor his support team was satisfied with such result. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to achieve resuming the investigation at the level of the regional Investigative Committee, we applied to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, legitimately assuming that the guilty of tortures should not get away with it, when Russian citizens all together are obliged to pay for their crimes».

On 16 January 2016 the Presidium of the Supreme Court quashed the rulings of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court and the Dzerzhinsky City Court, which declared legal the ruling of the investigator to refuse initiating criminal case based on Sergey Lyapin’s complaint on torture. Because of this ruling of the Supreme Court the investigators are obliged to resume their work on this complaint.

Today human rights defenders from the Committee for Prevention of Torture, representing Lyapin’s interests, have received a copy of ruling on initiating criminal proceedings with regard to the crime under item «а» part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («Abuse of office performed using violence»).

«We are satisfied that at last the case has been opened and Sergey Lyapin is declared a victim in it. Despite the fact that the statute of limitations for this crime expires in less than two years, I’m sure that the investigators will be able to collect the evidence required in court and the culprits whom Sergey has identified several times already, will be brought to justice», – Kuznetsov emphasizes.

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