Human rights defender applied to the Prosecutor's Office with regard to denial of access to the torture case


08 July 2016

Lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov applied with a complaint to Prosecutor of Dzerzhinsk (the Nizhny Novgorod region) Dmitriy Zhidelev against the illegal actions of the officers of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Nizhny Novgorod region Investigative Department for Dzerzhinsk. The human rights defender claims that investigator of this department Roman Shamshutdinov and his superior Andrey Tsaplinov in fact hinder the investigation of the criminal case on Sergey Lyapin’s electricity torture by the police in 2008. For example, Albert Kuznetsov was denied access to the criminal case as a victim representative on formal grounds.

(Photo: Sergey Lyapin and lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov)

As we have previously reported, criminal case based on the fact of electricity torture of Sergey Lyapin from the Nizhny Novgorod region in 2008 at the police department of the Volodarskiy district was initiated only in March of this year.  Human rights defenders, representing Lyapin’s rights, are convinced that initiating criminal proceedings became possible only due to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which in 2014 acknowledged the fact of torture of Sergey and established that the investigative authorities did not perform an appropriate investigation at the domestic level. Due to that on 20 January of this year the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation passed a ruling to resume the proceedings with regard to Lyapin’s complaint.   

The story of the father of four kids (now Lyapin has seven kids already), who on 9 July 2008 applied to the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Committee Against Torture, runs as follows. According to Sergey, during the night of the 24th – 25th of April he was collecting scrap metal near one of garage blocks of Ilyinskoye settlement of the Volodarskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod region. All of a sudden he was detained by officers from the Volodarskiy police department, as he was told, «on suspicion of committing thefts» and taken to the local police department.

According to the applicant, he was beaten up in the police department, and then tortured with electricity. Sergey recalls: «The detective officers tried to increase the effect of current by pouring water on my hands and electrical contacts. I lost consciousness several times».

After that the police conducted a series of investigative actions with the detainee. Later the justice of peace sentenced Mr. Lyapin to 5 days of administrative arrest for «resistance to the police» and he was transferred to a special detention facility to serve his sentence.

The following day Mr. Lyapin got worse and an ambulance took him first to the first-aid station and later he was taken to hospital. The hospital’s doctors diagnosed multiple traumas and injuries: «cerebral concussion, contusions of the neck and chest, thermal burns on both hands…»

When Sergey got out of hospital after two days of treatment (he never served the full time of his administrative punishment) he applied to the investigation authorities with a complaint against the police officers. However, the Dzerzhinsky Interdistrict Department of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office for the Nizhny Novgorod region performed a highly inefficient check in its regard. Within one and a half years period investigators issued at least ten refusals to open a criminal case, 9 of them have been found unlawful.

Having exhausted the domestic remedies human rights defenders had to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. As the result the Strasbourg judges in their ruling acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not perform efficient investigation of this fact. The applicant was awarded a compensation in the amount of 45 000 euro.

«However, even after the ruling of the European Court the Russian law-enforcement agencies still have not commenced the investigation and have not brought the guilty party to justice. The above-mentioned ruling was ignored by the investigation, and the sum of compensation, awarded by the ECHR, became the responsibility of common tax-payers and not of the police officers guilty of tortures, with silent indulgence of the Investigative Committee, – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov, representing Sergey Lyapin’s interests, comments. – Neither the applicant nor his support team was satisfied with such result. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to achieve resuming the investigation at the level of the regional Investigative Committee, we applied to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, legitimately assuming that the guilty of tortures should not get away with it, when Russian citizens all together are obliged to pay for their crimes».

On 20 January 2016 the Presidium of the Supreme Court quashed the rulings of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court and the Dzerzhinsky City Court, which declared legal the ruling of the investigator to refuse initiating criminal case based on Sergey Lyapin’s complaint on torture. Because of this ruling of the Supreme Court the investigators are obliged to resume their work on this complaint.

Only in two months’ time, on 16 March 2016, senior investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Nizhny Novgorod region Roman Shamshutdinov initiated criminal proceedings based on the fact of the crime under part «a» Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («abuse of office using violence»). At the present time the period of the pre-trial investigation is extended till 16 July 2016, and still there are no defendants in the case.  

«Apparently, neither the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, nor the ruling of the Presidium of the Supreme Court is a sufficient incentive for the Investigative Committee’s officers to perform their duties in a proper manner. For example, the investigator is not notifying the victim on the progress of the pre-trial investigation, as it is required by the Criminal Procedural Code. Besides, the Dzerzhinskiy Investigative Department officers hinder Lyapin’s rights to qualified medical assistance, under various pretexts denying my access to the criminal case in the capacity of the victim’s representative, – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov comments. – Lyapin himself thinks that in so doing the investigators are trying to push him to act not according to the protocol and to use informal agreements, trying to present it, taking advantage of Sergey’s lack of legal knowledge, as supporting his interests and expediting the investigation. Due to that we applied with a complaint against the investigators’ actions to Prosecutor of Dzerzhinsk Dmitriy Zhidelev».

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