Today, 1 November 2019, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights in the interests of lawyer Aleksey Sukhanov, who claims that in January 2017 Lawyer Aleksey Sukhanov applied to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture for legal assistance: he claims that on 25 January of this year the bailiff of the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow hit his head against the safe because Mr Sukhanov attempted to render legal assistance to his client Elena Rokhlina. According to human rights defenders, articles of the European Convention prohibiting tortures and brutal treatment and guaranteeing effective investigation have been violated with regard to Mr Sukhanov.
As we have previously reported, in February 2017, defense lawyer Aleksey Sukhanov applied for legal assistance to human rights defenders. On 25 January 2017 he came to the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow to participate in another court hearing in the capacity of a defense lawyer of one of the defendants in this case.
According to the participants of the court hearing, questioned by human rights defenders, there was an argument between the listening public and the bailiffs. One of the listeners – Elena Rokhlina – while staying in the corridor, asked a dog handler passing by with a service dog why his dog was not wearing a muzzle. “So that you ask about it!”, – was a rude answer from the dog handler. After that, according to the listeners, a bailiff ran into the corridor, and holding Rokhlina by the hand, pulled her in his office room for drawing up the administrative protocol. Former Prosecutor’s Office employee Viktor Panov, standing nearby, attempted to give the bailiff a reproof, after that he was also escorted to the same office room.
Aleksey Sukhanov told human rights defenders that having learned about the situation he immediately went to that office room for rendering legal assistance to Rokhlina, with whom he had an agreement concluded. The lawyer claims that having entered inside he produced a warrant and ID, however, the bailiff started to push him out of the office room, wrested the warrant from his grasp and attempted to wrest and destroy the ID. Sukhanov demanded that they did not touch him. In response to that the bailiffs attacked him and started to wring his hands.
“After I was brought to my knees, one of the bailiffs placed his palm on the back of my neck and pushed my head with force in the direction of the safe, – the lawyer describes. – I hit the left side of my head against its metal edge. The blow was strong and painful; it knocked me unconscious for several moments. When I came to my senses, I found out that my hands were handcuffed behind my back”.
Panov, Rokhlina and Sukhanov himself say that the bailiffs beat Aleksey down on the floor, handcuffed him, compressing his hands with force, and kicked him out from the office room, after that they continued to draw up protocols on Panov and Rokhlina. In the corridor other members of the court audience saw that Sukhanov felt bad and called for the police and the ambulance. The latter transported the lawyer to the Institute of Emergency Care named after N.V. Sklifosovsky, where he was diagnosed with a closed craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, abrasions of the head soft tissues and bruises of the limbs.
On the next day Aleksey Sukhanov applied to the Investigative Committee with a crime report. During the pre-investigative check the investigators of the interdistrict investigative department for the Tverskoy District of the Chief Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Moscow issued ten illegal rulings dismissing the criminal case which were subsequently quashed. Over and over again the investigators pointed out that the violence applied against Aleksey Sukhanov was legal, at the same time directly ignoring the witnesses’ evidence and the fact that the bailiffs did not have legal grounds for applying physical force against Sukhanov.
At the present time, the eleventh refusal to initiate criminal proceedings is issued, human rights defenders intend to appeal against it.
Taking into account the reluctance of investigative authorities to effectively investigate Aleksey Sukhanov’s application, today, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture were forced to submit an application on his behalf to the European Court of Human Rights.
“During the check a lot of violations were committed. For example, the investigators did not question all the witnesses of the incident, only one year later the court video surveillance cameras records were requested, when the court moved to another building, and, of course, they were not received, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Petr Khromov comments. – We practically don’t have any hopes to move this wall of inaction at the national level. Now the European Court will provide its legal evaluation of the circumstances of the violence having been applied against Sukhanov, as well as of how effective was the check performed by the Russian investigative authorities on this incident”.