“He was going to squash my head and play football with it”. Investigation of torture case in Kabardino-Balkaria is dismissed for the fourth time


20 April 2020

The investigator from Nalchik, having failed to perform numerous investigative activities, ordered by the Prosecutor’s Office, issued another dismissal of the criminal case with regard to tortures of local resident Rustam Kuchmenov at investigations police department. Today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a complaint against this ruling to court.

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 to have been applied 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 tortures was dismissed for the first time.

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

During one month, investigator Alim Khochuyev questioned one witness and attempted to familiarize Rustam Kuchmenov with the conclusion of the expert panel forensic medical evidence. Having limited himself with that, on 25 January 2020, the investigator dismissed the criminal case for the fourth time.

At the same time, he did not perform a number of necessary investigative activities, which the Nalchik Prosecutor’s Office pointed out to him. For example, he did not perform face-to-face confrontation between the victim and the lawyer, who, according to Rustam Kuchmenov, was present during the battery; did not perform face-to-face confrontations between witnesses in the testimonies of which there are discrepancies; did not request for the data about telephone communications of the Rosgvardiya officers, who, according to Kuchmenov’s testimony, apprehended him and then tortured him in the criminal investigations department.

“In our opinion, investigator Alim Khochuyev issued absolutely illegal and ungrounded ruling, and with regard to that we applied to court, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov comments. – We hope that the court will satisfy our complaint, as any other ruling would contradict to the common sense and logics, as the investigator did not conduct any obvious investigative activities, the necessity of which the Prosecutor’s representatives were pointing out to him”.

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