He pierced my thigh with a bodkin two times”. A police torture case is dismissed for the sixth time in Kabardino-Balkaria


29 July 2020

The Investigative Committee dismisses the criminal case on tortures of Rustam Kuchmenov from Nalchik – he claims that in 2017 the police officers forced him to confess of theft by beating him up, applying electricity torture, pierced a bodkin in his thigh, threatened to play a game of football with his head. Investigator Alim Khochuyev, having satisfied the motion of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture about conducting numerous investigative activities, in the end failed to perform any and dismissed the case.

As we have previously reported, 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 2017, 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-Balkaria 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”.

A criminal case was initiated with regard to Rustam on suspicion of having committed several thefts. In the middle of November 2019 he was convicted to six years’ prison term.

On 5 June 2017, Rustam applied to the Investigative Committee with a complaint concerning violence and electricity torture that were used against him.

On 8 July, a criminal case was opened against head of the department on fighting the organized crime of the Department of the Criminal Investigations of the Republican Ministry of the Interior of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic Anzor Ashkhotov 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 2017 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.

In May 2019, the criminal case on torture was dismissed for the first time. Deputy Prosecutor of Nalchik quashed this ruling as illegal. The second refusal was dismissed as a result of the Committee Against Torture lawyers’ complaint during the personal appointment with the superiors of the Chief Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the North Caucasus Federal District. At that time, the criminal case was transferred for investigation at the republican level. However, in the end of December 2019, the criminal case was again dismissed, and on 25 December it was again resumed and returned to the Investigative Department for Nalchik.

During one month, investigator Alim Khochuyev questioned one witness and made an attempt to familiarize Rustam Kuchmenov with a conclusion of the medical forensic expert examination. Having limited himself with it, on 25 January 2020 the investigator dismissed the criminal case for the fourth time.

After the investigation of this case was resumed once again, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a motion to investigator Khochuyev requesting to conduct a number of investigative activities: a face-to-face confrontation between the defense lawyer and the victim, between the defense lawyer and the investigator, on conducting an identification of the Rosgvardiya officer who apprehended the victim and tortured him at the criminal investigations department, and additional interrogations of the Rosgvardiya officers.  

Investigator Khochuyev failed to timely respond to this motion of human rights defenders, that is why they applied to court.

“At the first hearing, investigator Khochuyev failed to recall what ruling he passed in the criminal case at all, but at the yesterday’s hearing he was quite prepared, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov, representing the interests of victim Rustam Kuchmenov, comments. – The investigator told the court that, once again, he dismissed the criminal case on tortures two days prior to the court hearing – on 26 July. In addition, in the course of the court hearing, we found out that our motion on conducting investigative was satisfied, but the investigator did not perform these activities, anyway. We have not yet managed to familiarize ourselves with the text of dismissing the criminal case, because, according to Khochuyev, his superiors prohibited him from bringing the case materials to court. Despite this, in the nearest future we shall insist on familiarization with the materials of the case and appeal against its dismissal”.

In addition, according to Alamov, human rights defenders will apply to the superiors of investigator Khochuyev demanding to subject him to disciplinary action.

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