European Court has communicated torture complaint of Nizhny Novgorod citizen made to confess to a rape


05 November 2013

On 5 November 2013 the European Court of Human Rights published on its official website the Statement of Facts and Questions to the Parties in the case of Anton Shestopalov concerning alleged violation of Articles 3 and 13 of the European Convention («prohibition of torture» and «right to an effective remedy»), which means that the Court has communicated the application to the Government. Now Russian authorities are to answer if the young man was subjected to torture and if there was an adequate investigation into his complaints.

(Photo: Anton Shestopalov)

In June 2004 the Committee Against Torture accepted an application from Tamara Shestopalova. The woman needed legal assistance. She complained that on 24 May 2004 her underage son Anton was detained on the suspicion of raping his ex-classmate and taken to the Ministry of the Interior directorate for Sovetskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod. According to Anton, he was made to confess to the grave criminal offense under torture that lasted for several hours. The next day Anton underwent medical examination which observed closed craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, multiple contusions and abrasions on the chest and knees.

It must be noted, that on 26 May 2004 the girl gave written statements that Anton Shestopalov was not the person who had raped her, and she had no complaints against him.
The Prosecutor’s Office was conducting a pre-investigation inquiry into Anton’s torture complaints for two years. In the course of the inquiry the Office issued six refusals to open a criminal case which were all appealed against by lawyers working with the Committee Against Torture, and were subsequently declared unlawful. On 20 February 2006 criminal proceedings were at last initiated, but with the passage of time a lot of evidence had become unavailable, and many investigative steps had lost their value. Later the criminal proceedings were suspended on the grounds that it was not possible to identify those responsible, and this is still the current status of the proceedings now.

Nevertheless, the State admitted that the teenager had been subjected to violence by unidentified police officers: on 17 November 2008 the Sovetskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod awarded him 50 thousand rubles in compensation for the moral damage from battery at the police department.

On 16 October 2007 lawyers working with the INGO «Committee Against Torture» filed an application with the ECHR on the applicant’s behalf. Now, Strasbourg Judges have put several questions to the Russian Federation, including the questions if the young man was subjected to torture, and if domestic investigative authorities conducted an effective, thorough and expeditious investigation in the present case.

Anton Shestopalov is represented before the Court by Anton Ryzhov, a lawyer with the INGO «Committee Against Torture», who comments on the news as follows: «According to the relevant domestic procedure, Russian authorities have half a year left at their disposal to identify and hold liable those responsible, for the statute of limitation will expire in May 2014. Considering that since the very beginning there has been no progress in the investigation, it is highly doubtful the perpetrators will be identified and brought to justice within this period. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation again seems to be going to substitute compensation for an effective investigation».

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