"I used to beat up my subordinates in this room"


08 February 2015

A trial of six police officers charged with several criminal episodes of exceeding official powers and one criminal episode of home invasion continues at the Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod. Last Friday in the course of the court session victim Elshan Zamanov was questioned, who used to be an interior ministry member himself.

As we have previously reported, on 27 March 2012 the Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture received applications from Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov alleging they were subjected to unlawful violence by the police officers of Police Department no. 1 of Nizhny Novgorod Department of Interior. It took the Investigative Committee investigators over two and a half years to bring this case to court.  

The court session on Friday started with a motion of defendant Aleksandr Nikoayev on disqualification of the victim Gasanov’s representative Dmitry Utukin. Nikolayev explained that Utukin is a member of the Committee Against Torture, and this organization, in its turn, on 16 January 2015 was included in the list of organizations performing the functions of foreign agents. He also quoted the citation of the Prosecutor of Nizhny Novgorod region, in which it is mentioned that the activity of the Committee Against Torture creates a negative image of the officers of the ministry of the interior and is aimed at making the facts of torture public. However, judge Aleksandr Pakhomov dismissed the motion, indicating that he had no grounds for disqualifying the  victim’s representative.

Then Elshan Zamanov was questioned and reported the details of his detention. He explained that at first there were only threats, however, when the police officers failed to achieve their goal, they moved from words to actions.  

«Balandin (officer of the criminal investigation department – hereinafter comments by the Committee Against Torture) took me to his office and called someone. Then Samsonov came (deputy head of police department). He hit me in the face two times, and I fell. Then Samsonov and Balandin started to beat me up. They tied my hands behind by back with a  jumping rope. I told Samsonov that I had sore left eye, however he continued to hit me targeting the left eye. Samsonov shouted that not a single scoundrel escaped from him and that he even used to beat up his subordinates in this room. Then they took off my pants and Samsonov said they were going to rape me and send the video record to the prison camp where I would serve my sentence. I got very scared then and decided to confess of what I never committed. Then Alimov entered (head of investigations department). Samsonov started shouting at him claiming that they spent so much time on me and failed to achieve any results, that they are useless. He was complaining that it was him who had to do all the work and his subordinates were good for nothing», – Elshan Zamanov explained to the court.  

He also said that as a result of torture his eye inflamed and his eyesight deteriorated. Twice he underwent surgery, however, his left eye sees very poorly up to now.   

After the victim was questioned by his representative and the prosecutor, defendants and their advocates started to ask their questions. These were mainly personal ones, aiming at tarnishing the victims. Several times the judge even had to disallow the improper questions or ask the defense team to reword them.    

In the end of the court session the defendants’ advocates asked the court to summon two principle victims Zamanov and Gasanov to appear before court for counter interrogation.

Head of investigations department of Nizhny Novgorod office of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» Dmitry Utukin: «The story of Elshan Zamanov is a bright example of the fact that the system does not spare their own people either. In pursuit of the result the police officers did not spare even their former colleague who worked in the same district with them. They even knew each other with regards to police service.  According to Elshan the police officers applied fiendish tortures and were ready to go even further had he not agreed to take the blame upon himself.  It means that the practice of illegal violence is rooted in the department, and it has not been the first time when the officers of this department resorted to such methods»

Next court sessions are scheduled for 18 and 19 February 2015 at 9.30.

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