Official statement of Mr. I. Kalyapin, chairman of the Committee against Torture, dated 24 October 2008.
In the evening on 23 October the Investigation Administration of the RF Investigation Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region issued an official report which was published on their web-page and in the mass media. It says that chairman of the Committee against Torture provided “corrupted information” to the journalists and “made a prejudicial assessment of the real role of law enforcement bodies…”.
In this context I find it necessary to make the following statement:
First. In my speech I did not evaluate the “role of law enforcement bodies” as a whole. I assessed the role of specific bodies in charge of investigating Ms. Maslova’s case – bodies of the Nizhny Novgorod region Prosecutor’s office. And I still underline that I have every reason to assess the investigation under Maslova’s case as explicit sabotage on the part of the Investigation authorities of the Nizhny Novgorod region Prosecutor’s office.
Second. The press-release issued by the Investigation Committee under the Prosecutor’s office says: “Starting from 2000 prosecutors of Nizhny Novgorod and Nizhny Novgorod region have regularly taken all necessary steps to submit the given criminal case to court…” However, this information contradicts the facts I can confirm by official documents in my possession.
Within the abovementioned period the Prosecutor’s office investigators stopped the criminal proceedings four times (in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005). Moreover, the investigators did not only refrain from investigating the case themselves, but also failed to perform the actions they had been ordered to perform by higher-standing officials.
Later all those decisions were found unlawful and cancelled. I want you to note that the decisions were cancelled not upon the initiative of the investigation authorities, but because the applicant – Ms. Maslova – complained about them. It should be mentioned that according to Prosecutor General’s decree № 39 of 05.07.2002 “On prosecutor’s supervision of lawfulness of criminal proceedings at the stage of pre-trial investigation”, the Prosecutor has advised “to perform effective supervision if criminal cases are terminated, check whether it was done lawfully and reasonably, and to stick to the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code. To cancel the decisions to stop pre-trial investigation, criminal proceedings or prosecution immediately, if all possible means to collect evidence and disclose the perpetrators are not exhausted” (p. 10 of the abovementioned Decree).
Nevertheless, the prosecutors never cancelled unlawful decisions themselves. So, I may conclude that the opinion of the investigators who had issued several unlawful decisions to stop investigation under Maslova’s case was fully shared and approved by the prosecutors. I would like to remind you that none of the investigators or prosecutors was held responsible for issuing unlawful decisions to stop investigation in breach of the RF PG’s decree.
In this particular case we witnessed the so-called “prosecutors’ ping-pong game”, when the investigation is stopped and resumed… forever. There is no effective investigation and no one is held liable for unlawful decisions. The Prosecutor’s office simply plays for time and waits when the victim loses patience, runs out of time and money to pay for the lawyer needed to appeal against another unlawful decision to stop the investigation. Unfortunately, we can see the prosecutor’s office apply this “ping-pong” strategy on a regular basis in a number of similar torture cases.
It is the absence of effective investigation, multiple unlawful decisions to stop the investigation issued by the prosecutors that have led to the fact that the accused appealed against another decision to resume criminal proceedings dated 2005 in court, and the court found it unlawful because it is not legally possible to resume criminal proceedings several times on the same grounds. And this is not my evaluation, this is the position present in a court judgment that has entered into force.
Third. The statement that the investigation authorities cannot proceed with the investigation and indictment when there is a European Court judgment already is also not true to life.
In accordance with the RF Criminal Procedure Code, a European Court judgment might be a reason to resume investigation under the case because of newly revealed circumstances. You may remember that this reason appeared on 24 January 2008, but the investigation authorities did not do anything. It is not quite clear what other “additional information” the Investigation Committee is waiting for. Besides, the claim that the court judgment of 2005 ruling that there are no sign of crime in the actions of the suspects hampers investigation is also absurd – as if it can be the reason why the Prosecutor’s office cannot indict the suspects. However, in order to bring a charge against somebody, the criminal investigation is to be resumed due to newly emerged circumstances, in accordance with art. 413 of the Criminal procedure Code; the Investigation committee has not done it yet.
Fourth. The press-release issued by the Investigation Administration of the RF Investigation Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region accuses me of “being biased when evaluating the facts of the case”. I should say that unlike Investigation Committee representatives, I do not claim being 100 per cent objective. But I would like to emphasize that my “biased” evaluation corresponds to the opinion of the European Court of Human Rights that states the following in its judgment:
“The Court finds that the principal reason for these errors lay in the manifest incompetence of the prosecution authorities which conducted the investigation between 26 November 1999 and 5 July 2000.” And further: “Accordingly, the Court finds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the lack of an effective investigation into the first applicant’s allegations of ill-treatment.”
Let me remind you that head of the Consolidated Press-Service of the Nizhny Novgorod region judicial community Artem Bosov also referred to the “biased” attitude of the prosecution authorities towards Maslova’s case. Mr. Bosov explained his position during the briefing on 29 January 2008 where he cited the above given extracts from the European Court judgment.
In conclusion I would like to reiterate that the sabotage undertaken by the Nzihny Novgorod region prosecution authorities in course of criminal investigation under Maslova’s case is still employed by the Investigation Committee under dozens of similar criminal cases. That is why many Nizhny Novgorod citizens subjected to unlawful violent treatment by state representatives cannot protect their rights on the domestic level and are forced to apply to the European Court of Human Rights.
Judging by the reaction of the Investigation Administration of the RF Investigation Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region to our criticism, the situation is not going to improve in the nearest future.
INGO “Committee Against Torture”