After nine and a half years, the check with regard to tortures of six residents of Orenburg is resumed

Событие | Пресс центр

13 January 2020

In Orenburg, the check with regard to the complaint of local resident Yury Zontov and his five friends about the police torture in 2010, is resumed. The residents of Orenburg claim that they were beaten up by the police officers who forced them to confess of a series of thefts. Despite the confessions that they provided, their criminal prosecution was dismissed due to their non-involvement in committal of the crimes. The victims complained of tortures, but the criminal case was never opened. Nine and a half years later, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture successfully insisted that the check of the battery complaints was resumed.

On 28 May 2010, Yury Zontov and five friends of his were apprehended on suspicion of committal a series of thefts and were taken to the police department No.1 of the Department of the Ministry of the Interior for the Orenburg region. As each of the apprehended reported, the police officers were beating them, in order to make them confess of crimes. Having yielded to tortures, all of them signed full confession.

Despite the confessions available in the criminal case, the criminal prosecution of all six apprehended residents of Orenburg was later dismissed due to their non-involvement in the series of thefts.

After staying in custody at the police department, the following bodily injuries were registered on Yury Zontov: “Hematoma of the chest tissues of the chest from the right, which may have developed due to traumatic impact of a blunt solid object”.

All Zontov’s acquaintances were also registered with bodily injuries: hematomas, extravasations, bruises, craniocerebral injuries, brain concussions. One of the men was diagnosed with a closed nose fracture. One of the women, apart from hematomas and bruises on the body, was registered by experts with “a section of the skin without hair in the hairy part of the head”. In the opinion of medical forensic experts, the bodily injuries of all the battered people could have developed in the time corresponding to the circumstances of the case.

The victims applied to the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of Russia for Orenburg with regard to the fact of tortures. On 22 November 2010, investigator of this department Nadezhda Vorobeykina issued a ruling refusing to open a criminal case.

Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture appealed against this ruling of the investigator, and today human rights defenders received an answer from the Prosecutor’s Office of the Leninsky District of Orenburg, which stated that the “refusal” of investigator Vorobeykina is quashed and a check with regard to the victims’ complaints is ongoing. In his response, prosecutor of the district Aleksandr Zadorozhnev pointed out that “Repeated examination of the material on the refusal to open a criminal case in the district Prosecutor’s Office showed that the above-mentioned procedural ruling is taken prematurely and groundlessly”.

“We learned about the episode with the battery of Yury Zontov and five friends of his during the interrogation of Zury himself in the framework of the investigation of the criminal case on his battery at the police department which happened in 2011, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin comments. – Zontov told that in 2011 he was beaten up by the same police officers who had beaten him and his friends a year before. Having examined the material of the check, performed by investigator Vorobeykina, we appealed against her refusal. We will definitely clarify with these agencies why this obviously illegal ruling was not quashed either by the Investigative Committee or the Prosecutor’s Office. We shall also insist on joining the two episodes of the battery in one criminal case”.

As we have previously reported, on 2 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling with regard to the complaint submitted in 2014 on behalf of Yury Zontov. The Strasbourg judges unanimously established violations of Article 3 of the Convention in negative and procedural aspects: the applicant was subjected to torture in 2011, and no effective investigation of this fact was performed. With regard to this a compensation of moral damage in the amount of 45 000 euro was awarded to the applicant.

On 10 October 2019, due to unsatisfactory investigation of Yury Zontov’s torture case, human rights defenders submitted an application to the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe with a request to pose questions to the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia regarding the execution of the ruling of the European Court concerning Zontov’s application. The representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia will have to describe what has been done by the Russian Federation already and what does it intend to do in order to fully restore Zontov’s violated rights and to fully execute the ECHR ruling passed in 2017.