Investigating Department for Avtozavodskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod referred to court a criminal case against Evgeniy Smirnov on charges of insulting a representative of authority. Previously, Evgeniy applied for legal assistance to the INGO «Committee Against Torture» complaining that on 3 July 2013 he was beaten up by police officers.
Mr Smirnov then filed a crime complaint with the Investigative Committee. Unfortunately, the IC followed its usual way of dealing with applications of the kind – refused to initiate criminal proceedings. Moreover, the IC opened criminal proceedings against the applicant, accusing him of insulting representatives of authority. Human rights defenders consider this decision ungrounded, and note that it leaves a lot of questions in this case unsolved.
In the course of the pre-investigation inquiry which followed Mr Smirnov’s complaint, investigator Shlykov questioned eyewitnesses of the incident: people living in Avtozavodskiy district, staff and non-staff police servicemen.
The questioned policemen and members of voluntary people’s patrol stated, that Mr Smirnov had sustained his injuries before they arrived. Their statements are the only evidence in the case file supporting this version of the events. Moreover, the investigator limited himself to mere description of the questioning, where statements by the policemen and their voluntary assistants literary copy each other, repeating entire sentences word for word.
Nevertheless, other eyewitnesses saw police officers and men from voluntary patrol hitting the applicant. Their questioning records are reflected in the decision not to investigate. However, the refusal issued by the investigator contains no explanation why he finds some of the statements reliable, while the rest of them are not taken into account at all.
The investigation also failed to to provide a convincing explanation concerning the alleged insulting. According to the materials in the files of pre-investigation inquiry and ones of the criminal proceedings against Mr Smirnov, only statements by the policemen and by the voluntary patrol members contain these allegations. As for other witnesses, none of them heard Evgeniy say anything insulting to the policemen. Moreover, a district police officer who was then at the same police station where the detainees were brought to, Mr Solin, in his statements denies having heard any insulting words from Mr Smirnov. Meanwhile, those policemen and their voluntary assistants, allegedly implicated in the battery, word for word repeat one and the same sentence in their statements: «the detainees continued insulting the police officers at the police station».
According to the statements by the police officers and the voluntary patrol members, Mr Smirnov was in a state of alcoholic inebriation and was committing some offenses. However, the police did not arrange any medical examination which could show if the man was inebriated (while other participants of the incident were examined). He was not then charged with any administrative offense. Despite considerable discrepancies in witnesses’ statements, the investigator didn’t order any polygraph (lie detector) examinations, thought the applicant brought his willingness to undergo this examination to the authorities’ attention.
«Certainly, it is for a competent and impartial judge to make legal findings concerning the allegations of insulting police officers», says Dmitry Utukin, a lawyer working with the Committee Against Torture. «Still, we can’t but mention that the investigation in the proceedings based on these allegations was carried out in a timely manner. Sadly enough, we can not say the same about the investigation of Mr Smirnov’s ill-treatment complaint. The investigator issued a decision which doesn’t explain the nature of Evgeniy’s injuries, a decision containing numerous discrepancies which were not dissipated. We consider the pre-investigation inquiry to have been ineffective, and that is why we will apply against the refusal to initiate proceedings before court. We hope that court will oblige the investigator to rectify the violations and to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances in question».