Ministry of Finance is to pay 35 000 rubles in compensation for unreasoned delays in examining torture complaint

Событие | Пресс центр

07 February 2014

On 7 February 2014 the Supreme Court Judicial Collegium for Civil Cases of the Republic of Bashkortostan upheld earlier decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan to award Veronika Rozkulieva RUB 35 000 in compensation for procedural time limits breached in court when examining her ill-treatment complaints. Human rights defenders representing her interests are going to pursue compensation for the moral damage inflicted by the police.

(Photo: Veronika Rozkulieva)

As we have previously reported, in the summer of 2010 Veronika Rozkulieva applied to the Bashkortostan regional branch of the INGO «Committee Against Torture» seeking legal assistance. She claimed that in February 2010 she was beaten up in the Alshaevskiy Department of the Interior. According to the applicant, police captain Azat Shunkarov attempted to make her responsible for theft of a cell phone belonging to the chief of the cafe she worked for as a waitress. The woman rejected any involvement in the crime. She stated that the policeman inflicted her numerous blows to the head and body with his hands and a truncheon. Medical examinations observed such injuries as acute closed craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, and numerous bruises on different parts of her body.

It must be noted that in a month after the aggressive interrogation the police discovered that the missing cell phone had been taken by another person.

On 29 March 2010 the Belebeevsk Interdistrict Investigating Department of the Investigative Committee for the Bashkortostan Republic instituted criminal proceedings concerning the battery of the young woman on the grounds of evidence of a crime under Article 286 (3) (a) of the Criminal Code of Russia (exceeding official powers with the use of violence).

On 18 May 2011 the case was brought to trial before the Alshaevskiy District Court of the Bashkortostan Republic. The case was pending before the court for almost two years.

On March 21 the Alshaevskiy District Court found Azat Shunkarov guilty under Article 286 (3) (a) CC RF (exceeding official powers with the use of violence) and sentenced the policeman to 1 year of probation with a 3 year and 6 months suspended sentence, prohibited him to hold offices in the civil service for the term of 1 year and 6 months. The accused and his lawyer did not agree with the judgment and appealed against it.

On 18 July 2013 the Higher Court of the Bashkortostan Republic delivered an appellate decision in the case against police captain Azat Shunkarov. The Higher Court upheld the ruling of the court of the first instance that gave the officer three year and six month suspended sentence. In addition, the Higher Court held that the convicted must be prohibited to hold those offices in the civil service that imply representing public authorities.

Lawyers working with the INGO «Committee Against Torture» in Bashkortostan believed that the district court had breached procedural time limits provided by federal laws for examining Veronika Rozkulieva’s ill-treatment complaints, and therefore, the victim should demand just compensation. Thus, human right defenders applied to the Supreme Court of the Republic and served a claim against the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. The Investigating Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Republic of Bashkortostan, which had been in charge of the case, was summoned to the court as a third party.

Human right defenders argued that reasonable procedural time limit had been breached by the Alsheevsliy District Court, because multiple forensic examinations granted by the court on the defendant’s motions had caused unnecessary delays. The Committee lawyers objected to those requests, noting that the existing in the case file forensic examinations reports were sufficient, but the district court ordered several more examinations.

On 18 December 1012 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan awarded Ms Rozkulieva 35 000 rubles to be paid by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. The Supreme Court also gave its assessment of the procedural and investigative steps taken by the investigative bodies in charge of the case. The court concluded that there had been unreasoned delays in the criminal proceedings caused by partly ineffective performance of the investigative bodies.

The Investigative Committee appealed against this decision. On  7 February 2014 the Supreme Court Judicial Collegium for Civil Cases upheld the decision, having found it lawful and well-grounded.

Lawyer working with Bashkirian regional branch of the INGO «Committee Against Torture» Ayrat Davletshin, who represents Ms Rozkulieva’s interests comments on the decision reached by the Collegium: «We believe that the trial was unreasonably delayed due to the fault of the Alshaevskiy District Court, but not the Investigative Committee. However, the Judicial Collegium found drawbacks in the investigative body’s performance, for criminal proceedings include pre-trial investigation. We will now pursue compensation for the moral damage inflicted by the criminal acts of the police. The nearest court hearing is on February 13».