The investigation with regard to head of the department on fighting the organized crime of the Department of the Criminal Investigations of the Republican Ministry of the Interior Anzor Ashkhotov, who is suspected of having tortured Rustam Kuchmenov from Nalchik, will be dealt with by the department for major crimes of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russsian Federation for the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. Investigator Azamat Makoyev who at first suspended the case and then dismissed it altogether, is suspended from its investigation.
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.
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 the beginning of 2018 the investigators performed several more identifications, during which Kuchmenov identified five police officers who participated in his tortures, as well as face-to-face confrontations. The victim’s testimony was checked in the building of the Republican Department of Criminal Investigations. In the course of the investigative activity Rustam confidently showed the room where he was tortured as well as the room of the head of the department.
However, starting from March 2018, the investigation came to a halt again. No investigative activities were carried out: the witnesses which Kuchmenov identified, were not questioned, and the status of the police officers, who were identified by the victim, did not change – they were not declared suspects, and the only suspect in the case, Anzor Ashkhotov, was not suspended from duty, despite repeated applications of human rights defenders to the regional superiors of the Ministry of the Interior.
And, in the end, on 17 January 2019, the investigation of the criminal case was suspended.
In the ruling on suspending (read), investigator Makoyev indicated the following cause: “Due to establishment of the whereabouts of suspect A.Z.Ashkhotov, but real impossibility of his participation in the criminal case”.
On 19 July of this year the investigation was dismissed altogether. When passing this ruling, investigator Makoyev came to the conclusion that the conducted investigative activities and forensic examinations do not allow establishing that Anzor Ashkhotov committed illegal actions against Rustam Kuchmenov.
In addition, in the opinion of the investigator, the victim who complained of torture, attempted to escape from criminal responsibility.
Yesterday, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture received a notification from the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic that Mr Makoyev’s ruling to dismiss the criminal case is quashed on 7 August and the case is transferred to the Major Cases Section of the Republican Department.
“We are welcoming this ruling to further investigate this criminal case at the republican level, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov comments. – We hope that the investigation of the case will be more active and fruitful. There are at least seven police officers with whom identifications, as well as a number of other investigative activities should be performed. Rustam and us, we are ready to render all possible assistance in investigating and bringing the culprits to criminal responsibility”.
According to Magomed Alamov, in the nearest future human rights defenders will submit an application to the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic on bringing investigator Azamat Makoyev to disciplinary action.