During the investigative activities, Rustam Kuchmenov from Nalchik identified five police officers who participated in his torture in June of last year, demanding his full confession. The criminal case based on the fact of torture was initiated back in July of last year, however, until recently no investigative activities with participation of the victim were conducted. There has been some progress in the case only after lawyers with the Committee Against Torture got involved into it and started to represent Kuchmenov’s interests.
On 15 December 2017, Rustam Kuchmenov from Nalchik applied to the North Caucasus branch of the Committee Against Torture. According to Rustam, on 2 June of last year armed police officers stormed into his apartment. Without explaining the reason, human rights defenders handcuffed him, put a black plastic bag on his head and took him to the Department of Criminal Investigations of the Ministry of the Interior for the Kabardino-Balkarskaya Republic. There the police officers demanded that he wrote a full confession of having committed a theft.
According to Mr Kuchmenov, after he refused to testify against himself, the police officers tied his hands and feet up with scotch tape, and attached a metal wire line on metal pins. One of the officers was pressing Kuchmenov’s head to the floor with his foot, and the other was holding the victim’s feet.
– I started to tell them that after the car crash I have a metal fixture holding my neck vertebrae. In response one of the police officers only pressed more strongly with all his body weight onto my neck, saying that he was going to squash my head and play football with it, – Kuchmenov remembers.
According to Rustam, then the police officers started to torture him, applying the electricity producing device: “Several times I passed out, after that they poured water on me, but I still refused to testify against myself”.
According to Rustam, after some time he was moved to another room, they gave him a cigarette and some water. However, sometime later the execution continued: “One of the police officers demanded that I confessed of having committed theft, and after I refused, he forced a bodkin into my thigh. Later, during the interrogation, the police officer hit me in the face in the presence of the investigator”.
Together with Kuchmenov, his cousin and his acquaintance were apprehended. According to them, the police officers tortured them and demanded that they confessed of thefts, as well. As a result, a criminal case was initiated regarding all three apprehended persons on suspicion of having committed several thefts, and in June of last year they were put into the investigative confinement cell.
After several months of custody, Rustam was released on condition not to leave town. The reason for that was the conclusion of the medical commission which established that due to the damage of the metal fixture in his neck Kuchmenov cannot stay at the confinement cell.
On 5 June of last year, Rustam applied to the Investigative Committee with a complaint concerning violence and electricity torture to have been applied against him. On 8 July, a criminal case was opened against one of the police officers under item “a” part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”).
The criminal case was quite promptly opened; however, it came to a halt – no investigative activities with the victim’s participation were conducted. Having concern about the investigation progress and in fear of pressure by the police officers, in December of last year Rustam applied to the Committee Against Torture for help. At the same time, the human rights defenders got involved in the trial in a capacity of the victim’s representatives.
At the present time, the case led by investigator Azamat Khazhirokov, returned to the active stage – in January and February several identifications, where the victim identified five police officers who took part in torturing him. According to Kuchmenov, in total there were nine of them.
“Now the investigation is going on at quite an intensive rate, several more identifications are scheduled for the nearest future. However, we are concerned by the fact that there is only one suspect in the case still – head of Organized Crime and Illegal Arms Trafficking Investigation Division of the Department of Interior for the Kabardino-Balkarsksaya Republic Anzor Ashkhotov. However, even he is not suspended from duty, and no pre-trial restrictions are imposed on him. The rest of the identified officers have not still received even the suspect status – all of them continue to work in law-enforcement, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov, representing the interests of Rustam Kuchmenov, comments. – We are convinced that in this situation the police officers have real opportunity to execute pressure both on the investigation and the victim. We think that there is sufficient data for charging several police officers in the case, that is why we will file an appropriate motion to the investigative authorities”.