European Court of Human Rights is interested in the case of a man's death in the police department in 2005


16 September 2014

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has communicated the complaint lodged by lawyers of the Committee Against Torture on behalf of Lubov’ Maslova from Orenburg region, whose brother, Vasily Maslov, died in the Buguruslan district police station (Orenburg region) in 2005. Judges from Strasbourg posed a number of questions to the Russian authorities, including whether Vasily’s right to life, provided by Article 2 of the European Convention, was violated.

(Photo: Vasily Lyamov)

As we have previously reported, on 8 June 2006 Lubov’ Maslova applied to Orenburg branch of the Committee Against Torture seeking for legal assistance. On 19 December 2005 her 23-year-old brother from Aksakovo town (Orenburg region) Vasiliy Lyamov was detained and beaten up by the district police officer Valeriy Prytkov. Then the man was brought to Buguruslan District Department of the Interior (ROVD). There Mr Lyamov was lying on the floor of the lobby for several hours, right before the eyes of a patrol-guard officer and the police station duty officer. The ambulance, that was called too late, had nothing left to do but to pronounce death.

Experts with Orenburg regional Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination reported the following injuries to Mr Lyamov’s body: bruises and abrasion on the face and soft tissues of the head, brain hemorrhage, ruptures in cervical spine, and many other injuries. Death caused by fractured neck vertebra. The injury was inflicted when the victim’s head was pulled back as far as it could go, and then violently turned to the right.

Nevertheless, a domestic court after a five-year trial found that the prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence showing that it was officer Prytkov who had inflicted the deadly injury. In 2011 he was found guilty of exceeding official powers with the use of violence and special devices which led to grave consequences. He was sentenced to 3 years in general regime (minimum security) penal colony.

The outrageous fact is that during the five years, from the moment of being charged with a criminal offense, Mr Prytkov was not debarred from police service. Moreover, he got promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and was granted preferential pension.
On the grounds that no police officers made any efforts to rescue the dying man, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture filed a claim against the State on the behalf of Mr Vasiliy Lyamov’s relatives demanding compensation for moral damage. Almost eight years after he died in the police department, his relatives were paid a total of 680 thousand rubles in compensation. Those responsible have never been identified.
After more than six years of the official investigation human rights defenders came to a disappointing conclusion. In spite of the fact that the criminal case concerning Vasily Lyamov’s death was singled out into separate proceedings the investigation was merely marking time pretending to be looking for the murderer. The only way out of this situation was to apply to the international authorities. This «big guns» option had to be used in 2012, when lawyers lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Vasily Lyamov’s relatives.

Today is has become known that the ECHR has communicated this complaint and posed a number of questions to the Russian authorities:

– Can the applicant continue to demand her complaint being considered by the Court taking into account the decisions of the national courts?

– Was Mr.Lyamov’s detention lawful?

– Was he subjected to torture? Was he provided adequate medical care?

– Was Mr.Lyamov’s right of life violated?

– Was the investigation of this fact from the part of the investigative authorities efficient? In particular, was the issue of the responsibility of the police officers for the failure to render medical care to Lyamov considered?

The Russian Federation is also asked to provide Strasbourg judges with copies of all the materials of criminal case initiated concerning Vasily Lyamov’s death.

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