After four years, the Investigative Committee resumed investigation of the criminal case initiated back in 2014 with regard to the application of Yury Zontov from Orenburg who complained of police torture. It became possible after the application to the European Court of Human Rights was satisfied and the Supreme Court of Russia declared its ruling.
As we have previously reported, in September 2011, Yury Zontov applied for legal assistance to the Orenburg office of INGO «The Committee Against Torture». He told the human rights defenders that on 27 August he was taken to the police department No.4 for Orenburg city. There police officers were beating him, hitting his feet with rubber truncheons, and strangling him with a plastic bag in order to make the man confess of thefts of a cell phone and a golden necklace. Having yielded to tortures Yury signed the full confession.
At the first-aid station the man told the doctors that he was beaten up by the police. Later the bodily injuries were registered when he was transferred to the temporary detention facility (IVS) and to a pre-trial detention center (SIZO): bruises on the chest and both feet, numerous scratches on the lower back, in the area of left cheek-bone and in the area of both wrist joints.
On 30 September 2011, the crime report based on this case was submitted to the Investigative Department for Orenburg of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Orenburg region. During the pre-trial investigation 20 dismissals to initiate criminal case were issued, 19 of which were subsequently quashed at the initiative of the human rights defenders as illegal and ungrounded.
Having exhausted all domestic remedies aimed at restoring Yury’s rights at the national level, in April 2014 human rights defenders lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR). In a year, in March 2015, it was communicated.
It is worth noting that after the complaint was sent to the European Court of Human Rights the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case under the article «Abuse of office», however the Prosecutor’s Office of the Promyshlennyi District of Orenburg immediately dismissed it on the grounds that Zontov received bodily injuries as a result of wrestling techniques used by the police officers.
All the attempts of human rights defenders to insist on initiating the criminal case turned out to be in vain.
On 2 May 2017, the European Court of Human rights passed a ruling concerning the complaint submitted on behalf of Yury Zontov. The Strasbourg judges have unanimously established violations of Article 3 of the Convention in negative and procedural aspects: the applicant was subjected to tortures and this fact was not efficiently investigated. With regard to this Zontov was awarded a compensation for moral damage in the amount of 45 000 euro.
After the ECHR ruling entered into legal force, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation with a request to resume the check based on Yury Zontov’s complaint of torture.
On 17 May of this year the Supreme Court of Russia quashed the rulings of the Orenburg courts, which declared the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings to be legal and passed a ruling to resume the check based on Zontov’s complaint.
Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, having received a copy of this ruling, once again applied an appellate appeal to the Promyshlenny District Court of Orenburg against the ruling of prosecutor Vladimir Lugovkin, which he passed four years ago, and with which he quashed the initiation of the criminal case investigating torture.
At the present moment the case is handed over for investigation to the first department of major cases investigation of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Orenburg region.
“This case vividly illustrates how one ungrounded ruling of the prosecutor led to the whole set of violations of the rights of the citizen of the Russian Federation, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin comments. – If not for absurd ruling of the Prosecutor’s Office in 2014, the Investigative Committee could have performed an effective investigation, find the culprits and bring the case to court. Then, possibly, there would have been no ruling of the European Court of Human Rights”.