Former head of Makhachkala customs office accuses investigators of torture

Событие | Пресс центр

14 September 2018

Former acting head of Makhachkala Customs Office Askandar Bilalov accuses the investigators of Chief Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the North Caucasian Federal District of organizing his torture. He is convinced that his battery by the police officers, as well as violence by his cell mates, were organized by investigators of the Investigative Group which investigates criminal case with regard to him. For two years the investigators issued 14 illegal rulings refusing to initiate criminal proceedings based on Bilalov’s complaint of torture. The 15th refusal is not being appealed against by lawyers with the Committee Against Torture.

(Askandar Bilalov, photo: https://www.novayagazeta.ru)

Askandar Bilalov applied to human rights defenders for legal assistance. He reported that in the period from 4 to 12 September 2016 he was subjected to violence by law-enforcement officers. According to Askandar, on 29 August 2016 he was apprehended in Makhachkala by investigator of Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for North Caucasian Federal District on suspicion of being involved in a criminal association with the use of his job and having failed to pay customs duties in especially big amount.

On the same day, Bilalov was taken first to Temporary Detention Cell of the Police Department for the Predgorny District of the Stavropol Territory, and then he was transferred to another detention facility – of the Police Department for the Kochubeevsky District of the Stavropol Territory, where he stayed till 12 September 2016. Bilalov told that on the way from one detention cell to another he was beaten up by officers in civilian clothes who were escorting him.

“On 4 September unknown people, having put a bag on my head and attached it to my head with a scotch tape, took me out of the Temporary Detention Cell of the Police Department for the Predgorny District out to the field, where they started to beat me up, hitting me at various parts of my body, and then they started to threaten me with execution if I did not confess of illegal documentation of vehicles”, – Askandar Bilalov describes. – After that I was taken to the Police Department for the Kochubeevsky District of the Stavropol Territory, where two musclemen awaited for me, who broke my finger and threatened me with violence if I did not write full confession and did not confess to the investigator of being involved in a criminal association and illegal documentation of vehicles”.
 
He added that after the battery in the cell, a bag was put on his head and he was taken to the Kochubeevskaya District Hospital for medical aid to be provided, where the doctors examined him and informed that he had a fracture.
 
According to Askandar’s wife, Gilera Bilalova, she knew nothing about whereabouts of her husband from 4 to 12 September. She managed to see him only after the personal appointment with the Head of the Department for Major Cases Investigation of Chief Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the North Caucasian Federal District. Gilera learned from her husband that he was subjected to physical violence by the police officers, as well as by persons who were in the Temporary Detention Cell of the Police Department for the Kochubeevsky District together with him.

Investigators of the Third Department for Major Cases Investigation of Chief Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the North Caucasian Federal District commenced checking Bilalov’s torture complaint, and by the present time they have already issued fifteen refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, fourteen of them were declared illegal and quashed.
 
During the pre-investigative check the investigators failed to clear the controversies in the data they collected.

For example, the investigators deny the fact that Bilalov had a fractured finger and applied for medical assistance. They motivate this stance by the words of the doctors of Kochubeevskaya District Hospital, as well as by the data of expert examinations which were conducted long time after the event.

In their explanations the doctors claim that they know nothing about a man who was taken to hospital in September 2016 and about subsequent medical assistance provided to him, this fact was never registered anywhere. However, this is in direct contradiction to the documents which were drawn up and signed by them previously in response to Bilalov’s lawyers’ requests. There, the doctors claim quite the opposite: the man who was delivered by the police officers was X-rayed, he was diagnosed with a finger fracture and a plaster splint was applied, and the X-ray photograph itself was handed over to the officers who were escorting him.

All these documents were handed over to the investigation and added to the materials of the check, but these contradictions did not raise any questions of the investigators and they did not try to find out their cause.

On 27 February of this year the limit of Bilalov’s keeping in custody expired and he was released from the Investigative Cell with travel restrictions imposed upon him. On the next day he applied to medical institutions in the area of his residence in Makhachkala. Based on the results of the conducted examination, the Bureau of forensic medical examination of the Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Dagestan established that Bilalov had a closed finger fracture, which may have happened under circumstances that he described.

“At the present time this expert examination is missing in the materials of check based on Bilalov’s torture complaint. In order to add it to these materials, the check needs to be resumed”, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov, representing the interests of Askandar Bilalov, comments.

On 30 May of this year, Deputy Head of the Third Department for Major Cases Investigation of Chief Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the North Caucasian Federal District, Colonel of Justice Shakov passed the fifteenth ruling, refusing to initiate criminal proceedings.

Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture appealed against this ruling to Essentuksky City Court. On 6 September of this year, judge Oleg Sentsov passed a ruling, dismissing the complaint.

“There are a lot of contradictions in the check. The investigators refer to the documents which fit the version they chose that no one beat Bilalov up or tortured, and other data is simply ignored, as if there is none. For example, a cleaning lady of the Kochubeevskaya hospital informed the investigation that she saw some people who were taking a man in a bag on his head to the doctors. The investigator does not provide any evaluation of this evidence. The doctors of this hospital tell the investigator one thing and they write a different thing in their documents. We pointed at all these contradictions to the court of the first instance, as well as to necessity of performing additional checking activities to rectify them. To all these arguments the Essentuksky Court answered very shortly that the investigator knows himself which activities he should be taking and which – not”, – Magomed Alamov comments.

At the present time the investigators applied to the Stavropolsly Regional Court with an appellate appeal against this court ruling.