Having failed to ensure the effective investigation of the torture case, a resident of Moscow applied to the European Court


18 June 2021

Today, on 18 June 2021, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with an application on behalf of Nikita Mikheyenko. In 2018, a criminal case based on the fact of his battery at the Schukino District Department of the Interior was opened, however, no suspects have been identified throughout the years, and Mikheyenko was never acknowledged a victim and the investigation of the case was regularly dismissed due to “absence of the criminal event”.

On 14 September 2016, Nikita Mikheyenko was apprehended by criminal investigation of the Department of the Interior for Schukino District of Moscow. He and an acquaintance of his were accused of drugs storage and preparations for selling. Back at the police department, the investigative officers demonstrated to Mikheyenko a black bag with drugs allegedly found in his backpack. In addition, according to Mikheyenko, the police officers inserted two rolls rewound with a scotch tape, into his jeans, and later on they were seized in the presence of attesting witnesses.

After the attesting witnesses left, the police officers demanded that the apprehended person confessed. Mikheyenko refused.

“The police officer, having thrown the ashes off the burning cigarette which was in his right hand, raised it to my right eye, due to that my eyelashes scorched, then moved it along the right eyelid, and then put it out against the wrist of my right hand”, — Mikheyenko told the Investigative Committee investigator, subsequently.

After that, according to Mikheyenko, three police officers hit and kicked his body, head, groin, feet, threatened him with a gun, put a piece of crumpled paper in his mouth.

According to Mikheyenko, after that the police officers brought him to the toilet, where put a condom which they found in his backpack on the rubber truncheon and passed it over his buttocks, threatening with rape, and then put his head in the sink full of water several times.

Before he was put to the temporary detention facility, Mikheyenko was examined at the first-aid station, where he was diagnosed with the following bodily injuries: “Bruises, extravasations of soft tissues of the parotid area on the right, upper lip, right shoulder joint, right wrist, right shank”.

On 16 September, the court refused to take Nikita into custody, and house arrest was selected as a measure of restraint. On the same day, he was hospitalized with a diagnosis “closed craniocerebral injury”. He spent seven days in hospital, after the release he was under the neurologist’s supervision.

Subsequently, Mikheyenko was convicted for the crime related to illegal drug trafficking and was sentenced to seven years’ prison term which were later decreased to four and a half. On 5 October 2020, he was released on parole.

On next day after his apprehension, on 15 September, Nikita applied to the Investigative Committee with a complaint about police torture. However, the criminal case on abuse of office with the use of violence (item “a” of Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) was initiated only on 4 October 2018 after repeated complaints against the inaction of the investigative authorities.

This ruling, in particular, stated that: “On 14 September 2016, unidentified police officers of the Department of the Interior for Schukino District of Moscow performed the abuse of office by applying physical violence against detained N.A.Mikheyenko, having beaten him and inflicted bodily injuries”.

Despite the opened criminal case in which it was stated that it was Mikheyenko who was beaten up at the police department, the investigator refused to declare him a victim. With regard to this, in September 2019, Nikita applied for legal assistance to the Committee Against Torture.

Human rights defenders appealed against the investigator’s refusal to acknowledge Mikheyenko a victim, however, the court sided with the Investigative Committee, having deemed that no Nikita’s rights were violated.

During two and a half years, Deputy Head of the Lyublinsky Interdistrict Investigative Department for South-East Administrative District of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Moscow Aleksandr Zatsepin is personally conducting the investigation of the case. During this time, Mr Zatsepin dismissed the criminal case four times due to “absence of the criminal event”.

All the rulings on dismissal of the case were subsequently dismissed after lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to court with complaints. However, resuming the case and extending the period of the investigation, the investigator did not perform any additional investigative activities, which is seen from each subsequent ruling, identical with the previous one to the letter. He also failed to perform any of the instructions issued by the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Moscow back in January 2020.

Due to the failure to ensure the effective investigation of Nikita Mikheyenko’s application at the national level, today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture were forced to apply to the European Court of Human Rights on his behalf. Human rights defenders think that Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, guaranteeing the prohibition of torture and the right to effective investigation, was violated.

“Investigator Zatsepin is openly resisting the effective investigation, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Petr Khromov, representing Nikita Mikheyenko’s interests, claims. – The refusal to acknowledge Mikheyenko a victim in the criminal case is of course the most vivid and unexampled inaction. Not having a procedural status of a victim, Mikheyenko is not notified when the case is dismissed or resumed, does not have a right to familiarize himself with the materials of the case to understand what steps the state performed to restore his violated rights”.

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