Death in Bashkirian custody hasn't been properly investigated for10 years. Ho one will be held accountable


13 March 2014

13 March 2014 is a sad anniversary for the Bashkortostan regional branch of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture». 10 years have passed since Mikhail Timin died in the temporary isolation ward of the Main Department of the Interior for Oktyabrskiy city of the Republic of Bashkortostan. The investigation into his death was highly ineffective, and has eventually been discontinued. The statute of limitations to prosecute those responsible has already expired. Nevertheless, human rights defenders keep working on this case at both national and international levels.

(Photo: Mikhail Timin)

On 16 March 2004 the Bashkortostan regional branch of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» received an application from Olga Karsakova, Mikhail Timin’s sister. In the course of subsequent public investigation lawyers with the Committee established the following. On 10 March 2004 Mikhail was arrested on suspicion of a criminal offense. In the temporary isolation ward of Oktyabrskiy city Mikhail’s health deteriorated. The competent authorities ignored all the repeated medical recommendations for urgent in-patient treatment, and not only failed to provide proper medical attendance for Mr Timin, but also placed him in a solitary confinement cell, where he could «disturb» no one. On 13 March, early in the morning, Mikhail died after a heart attack.

Investigation into the circumstances of his death appeared totally ineffective. For ten years investigative authorities have been issuing numerous refusals to investigate, which were subsequently appealed against by the Committee and declared unlawful.

In 2009 the City Court and the Court of Cassation declared the refusals to investigate well-founded. Those decisions were quashed following a supervisory appeal lodged with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Lawyers representing Ms Karsakova’s interests filed a relevant complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. In 2011 it was communicated to the Government.

On 20 February 2012, shortly before the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, Aleksandr Bastrykin, visited the city, investigators initiated criminal proceedings under Article 286 (3) of Russian Criminal Code concerning Mr Timin’s death. However, quite soon the investigators started issuing decisions to discontinue the proceedings on the ground that no crime had been committed. Those decisions were as well repeatedly appealed against by human rights defenders, declared unlawful and quashed. The last decision of the kind was issued on 31 December 2013.

Thus, by 2014 the statute of limitations had expired, and human rights defenders had «collected» sixteen unlawful decisions of investigative authorities.

On Olga Karsakova’s behalf, lawyers working with the Committee filed a claim for just compensation for moral damage inflicted by the ineffective investigation.

On 4 March 2014 the Leninskiy District Court of Ufa city partly sustained the claim, and awarded the plaintiff 100 thousand rubles, the request having been twice as much.

The Head of the Bashkortostan regional branch of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture», Dmitry Solodky, comments on the situation: «For ten years investigators have been «playing ping-pong» against us, demonstrating unwillingness to investigate according to the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights. They were issuing unlawful decisions – were were appealing against them, they were issuing – we were appealing… In the end, the statute of limitations expired. Nevertheless, we are determined to continue our work on the case. We have, on Ms Karsakova’s behalf, claimed for compensation for moral damage in respect of her brother’s death. We are going to introduce our evidence in a civil action in order to prove that authorities failed to provide proper medical attendance for Mikhail Timin, and that he sustained injuries when being under detention in the temporary isolation ward».

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