General Prosecutor’s Office pays no regard to the decision of the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights on acknowledging the fact of tortures


08 September 2016

Deputy Chief of the RF General Prosecutor’s Office for supervising the Investigative Committee procedural activities Mr Antipenko found legal the refusal to open a criminal case based on the application of Suren Ovakimyan reporting the police torture performed in order to make him give confessionary statements. This decision was taken by the General Prosecutor’s Office, despite the fact that in 2012 the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights Deputy RF Minister of Justice Mr Georgiy Matyushkin acknowledged the fact of violating three Articles of the European Convention committed by Russia with regard to Ovakimyan.

As we have previously reported, on 1 March 2008 Maria Ovakimyan applied to the Mari El regional branch of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. She informed the human rights defenders that her brother Suren had been beaten up by police officers who were trying to obtain a confession statement from him

According to Mr Ovakimyan, on 7 September 2007 police officers forcibly brought him out of Yoshkar-Ola and started to torture. They occasionally made pauses to ask Suren if he was ready to agree to their “conditions” which they did not specify. Having failed to obtain the agreement, they attached electric wires to his fingers and turned on the current, and increased it every time they made contact. In the end, being unable to bear the torture any longer, Suren said he would agree to any conditions they had to offer. After that the man was taken to Yoshkar-Ola Prosecutor’s Office. There the man refused to give any statements – and was then brought to a temporary detention facility.

The applicant claims that the next day he was again taken to an investigator who informed the man that he was suspected of murder. Having refused to give a confession statement, the man again found himself outside the city. There he was over again beaten up and thrown into a pit. When the police officers began to strangle him with car towing ropes, Mr. Ovakimyan yielded and promised to sign the confession statement the officers wanted. During the interrogation in the Prosecutor’s Office Suren signed all the records he was offered – and was taken to custody.

All the injuries sustained by the applicant were recorded by medics. When Mr Ovakimyan first time arrived at the detention facility, medical personnel observed numerous swellings, haematomas and skin abrasions all over his body. On 9 September 2007 Suren underwent a medical inspection in the medical unit of investigative isolator № 12/1, where new injuries on his body were observed and recorded, including linear sarcothlasis of the red colour about 8 centimeters long on his neck in the laryngeal prominence area.

On 5 November 2008 the court found Suren Ovakimyan guilty and sentenced him to 16 years of imprisonment.

In their turn, in 2008 the Committee Against Torture Lawyers, having exhausted all domestic remedies available, lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights. The application was communicated to the Russian Government on 31 August 2011.

On 20 March 2012 Mr Georgiy Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, signed the Memorandum acknowledging violations of Article 3 (Prohibition of torture), Article 5 (Right to liberty and security), and Article 13 (Right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms committed by Russian public authorities in respect of the applicant Suren Ovakimyan.

Despite this, criminal proceedings concerning unlawful use of violence against Mr Ovakimyan have not been initiated. During eight years the investigating authority made nine resolutions on refusing to open a criminal case and all of them were acknowledged illegal. Human rights defenders lodged a complaint against the tenth “refusal” prepared by the investigators, but they received the reply from Oleg Doronin, the Head of the Regional Investigation Division of the Investigative Committee: “The conclusions presented in the resolution to refuse to open a criminal case are based on the collected materials and are  reasonable”. Human rights defenders applied to the Republic Prosecutor’s Office but it was of the same opinion: the issued resolution to refuse a criminal case is legal.

Human rights defenders lodged a complaint against the decision of Head of the Regional Investigation Division of the Investigative Committee Oleg Doronin to Chairman of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin and another complaint was lodged against the decision of Mari El prosecutor Sergey Ryumshin to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia.

The other day the reply from the prosecutor’s office was received: ””No reasons to reverse the taken procedural decision to refuse to open the case have been found”.

Lawyer of the INGO The Committee for the Prevention of Torture Dmitry Yalikov, representing the interests of Suren Ovakimyan, is puzzled: “The Russian Federation represented by the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, Deputy of RF Minister of Justice, Mr Georgiy Matyushkin, already acknowledged the fact of using tortures in respect of Mr Ovakimyan, his illegal arrest and inefficient investigation of the incident, but the investigating and supervisory authorities keep ignoring this fact. In the course of the inspection conducted by the investigating officer medical documents were obtained, they show that Suren got bodily injuries when he was under the control of the state, i.e. while he was arrested by the police officers, and the pit where according to Suren’s words they tried to bury him, was found. But all these facts are not considered, the Investigative Committee trusts only the evidences of the law enforcement officers who arrested Ovakimyan”.

Olga Sadovskaya, the Head of the International Legal Department of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture believes that: “The fact of these two absolutely contrary positions of the state authorities at the highest level reminds me of a dual personality. Yesterday the state presented by the Minister of Justice acknowledges that Ovakimyan was tortured, but today the state presented by the General Prosecutor’s Office denies the same fact. From the medical point of view these are the symptoms of the dissociative personality disorder, which is quite upsetting. In fact, they have been demonstrating for us for four years that the authorities are not going to take any measures at the national level. All we have to wait is the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, as it sometimes helps get matters off the ground”.

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