As it has become known to human rights defenders from the Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture, the Investigative Committee completed the investigation of the criminal case in relation to former criminal investigations department police officers under the Department of the Interior for Orenburg Kirill Sorokin and Aleksey Pustovidov, charged with crime under item «a» part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the RF (abuse of office with use of force). The indictment for the case of Aleksandr Zhdan tortures in 2009 has been approved by Deputy Prosecutor of Leninsky District of Orenburg Vyacheslav Ovechkin. Now the case will be taken to court.
As we have previously reported, in July 2009 Mr Zhdan applied to the Orenburg regional branch of the NGO «Committee Against Torture» seeking legal assistance. According to the applicant, on 22 January 2009, when being a witness in criminal proceedings, he was apprehended by the police and taken to a department, where police officers tortured him with electricity. The severe torture provoked a stroke of cerebral apoplexy, and the officers had to take him to hospital. Aleksandr, who had suffered no health conditions before the detention, was after that granted a disability status, the II group according to Russian scale. In the course of his medical rehabilitation, arranged for by the Committee Against Torture, doctors managed to restore his speech function, but Aleksandr’s right hand and partly one leg will remain paralyzed for life.
In 2009, Mr Zhdan obtained no help from the authorities. Having applied to them for protection, the man discovered the authorities of the Investigative Committee of Orenburg to be in fact sabotaging the investigation instead of conducting professional work and bringing the guilty party to responsibility.
Thus, for five years human rights defenders were seeking justice at the national level. Lawyers lodged dozens various complaints with the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor’s Offices and courts on Aleksandr’s behalf. The lawyers representing his interests appealed against at least ten unlawful refusal to investigate. Twice courts sustained claims for compensation for moral damage inflicted by the officers’ unlawful actions. However, there was no progress in the criminal investigation, and the pre-investigation inquiry, which the relevant procedural law gives 3 days to be finished, lasted for years.
Having exhausted all possible remedies for restoring Aleksandr’s rights at the national level the human rights defenders submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. As it turned out, a criminal case was nevertheless initiated sometime before that based on p. «a» part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the RF (abuse of office with use of force).
Due to social significance of the criminal case its pre-trial investigation was assigned to investigator of first department for major cases of investigative department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for Orenburg region Sergey Trofimov.
At the present time necessary investigation activities on the case, based on Aleksandr Zhdan’s complaint, have been completed and the Deputy Prosecutor has affirmed conviction in relation to Kirill Sorokin and Aleksey Pustovidov. In the near future the case will be referred to the Leninsky District Court of Orenburg for examination on its merits.
«Certainly, we are satisfied that the conviction has been at last affirmed and soon will be referred to court. It remains to note what a pity it is that it took us five years to persuade the Investigative Committee to initiate criminal proceedings and performed a full-scale investigation of the incident, despite the fact that it should have done it at its own initiative, according to the law. All the more complicated task investigator Sergey Trofimov is going to face while he will be working on this case after so many years when a lot of evidence is lost, – says lawyer of the Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Dimitriyev, representing the interests of Aleksandr Zhdan. – Now we will continue representing the interests of our applicant at the stage of the court hearing, which promises to be no less complicated».