Examination of the ten-year-old torture case starts in the Nizhny Novgorod region


16 May 2018

Tomorrow, on 17 May 2018, at the Volodarsky District Court of the Nizhny Novgorod region, an examination on the merits of the case against former police officer Vitaly Starikov and acting authorized official for minors’ affairs Oleg Kashtanov, charged of Sergey Lyapin’s battery and electricity torture, which happened at the local police department in 2008, will be conducted. Despite the expiry of the statute of limitations for bringing to criminal responsibility with regard to the alleged crime, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of the victim, will insist that the court establishes culpability or nonculpability of the defendants.

(Sergey Lyapin, photo by: Mikhail Solunin)

The story of Sergey Lyapin, who applied for legal assistance to the Committee Against Torture on July 9, 2008, is as follows. According to Sergey, during the night of the 24th – 25th of April 2008 he was collecting scrap metal near one of garage blocks of Ilyinogorskoye settlement (the Nizhny Novgorod region). All of a sudden he was detained by security police officers from the Volodarskiy police department, as he was told, “on suspicion of committing thefts”, and delivered to the local police department.

According to the applicant, at the police department first he was beaten up, and then the police officers started to torture him with electricity.

“In order to increase the effect they poured water on electrical contacts and my hands. Several times I passed out”,
 – Sergey recalled.

Later the detainee was subject to the investigation formalities and the judge of the peace sentenced Sergey to 5 days of administrative arrest “for disobeying the police”, after that he was sent to a special detention centre to serve his sentence.

On 26 April Mr. Lyapin grew worse and from his cell he was taken first to a trauma station in Nizhny Novgorod, and then to hospital. There he was diagnosed with numerous injuries and traumas: concussion, chest contusion, thermal burns on both hands.

Upon the completion of two-days treatment course (Sergey never served full administrative sentence), Lyapin applied to the investigative authorities with a complaint against the actions of the police officers. However, the check that the Dzerzhinsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of the RF for the Nizhny Novgorod region performed based on this complaint was highly inefficient. During one and a half years investigators issued at least ten refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, nine of these refusals were declared illegal.

Having exhausted all remedies for Sergey Lyapin at the national level, human rights defenders were forced to submit a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. On 24 July 2014, the Strasbourg judges acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures in their ruling, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not conduct an efficient investigation of this fact. The applicant was awarded a compensation in the amount of 45 000 Euro.

On 20 January 2016, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation satisfied the motion for resuming the proceedings with regard to Lyapin’s complaint of torture due to the new circumstance – the European Court of Human Right’s ruling.

On 16 March 2016 investigator of the Investigative Department for Dzerzhinsk of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Roman Shamshutdinov initiated criminal proceedings based on the fact of Sergey Lyapin’s tortures.

During the preliminary investigation the criminal case was illegally suspended four times, due to which the indictment was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Volodarsky District only two years after it was opened – on 9 April 2018.

“25 April of this year is the expiry date of the statute of limitations for bringing to criminal responsibility for the convicts. Possibly, tomorrow they will submit a motion requesting to dismiss the criminal prosecution precisely on this ground, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Yulia Osipova, representing the interests of Sergey Lyapin, comments. – We, in our turn, intend to submit a motion to the court demanding to conduct a full-scale judicial investigation, in the course of which the culpability or nonculpability of the defendants would be established. We also intend to apply once again to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Lyapin with regard to highly inefficient investigation of this criminal case which led to the fact that the guilty of tortures will not be brought to criminal responsibility”.

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