On 31 March 2015 judge of the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod Vitaly Bondarenko passed the ruling on sending the criminal case of two former police officers from Nizhny Novgorod Department of the Interior Police Department No.7 who were previously convicted for torture back to the Prosecutor’s Office. The police officers in question are Andrey Sokolov and Vadim Volkov charged under article «exceeding official powers with use of violence and special equipment». As we have previously reported, in January 2014 the former police officers were already declared guilty, however the verdict was quashed on 4 March 2015, and the case was send for retrial.
(Vadim Volkov and Aleksey Sokolov)
On 6 March 2011 Aleksandr Dmitriyev was unlawfully apprehended by the police officers of Sovetsky District Police Department of Nizhny Novgorod on suspicion of theft, which he, as it was revealed later, did not commit. After his «conversation» with the criminal investigation department officers Dmitriyev signed a confession statement. Vertebral fracture and inpatient admission became another sad result of «enhanced interrogation» of Aleksandr.
According to Dmitriyev, who applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance, the policemen were beating him and used the method of torture known as «envelope» (victim’s hands are twisted behind the back and handcuffed, legs are tied together and with the hands so that the victim is «folded» like an envelope).
On 13 April 2011 criminal proceedings were initiated following Aleksandr’s ill-treatment complaint, but on 6 October 2011 the case was closed on the grounds that no crime had been committed. However, due to the efforts of the Committee Against Torture which called the media attention to this case, on 10 May 2012 the case was reopened and transferred to the first department of the Nizhny Novgorod region Investigative Committee Investigative Department.
As a result on 23 January 2014 the Sovetskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod pronounced the guilty verdict for two former police officers with Police Department no. 7 Aleksey Sokolov and Vadim Volkov and convicted them to five years prison term.
Their defense team was not satisfied with the court decision and filed an appellate complaint against it and on 4 March of this year the penal commission quashed the decision of the court of the first instance. The convicted who spent over a year in the pretrial detention facility were released in the court room, their restraint was limited to house imprisonment, and the case was sent for retrial to the District Court.
In the beginning of yesterday’s court hearing Vitaly Bondarenko raised the issue about sending the case back to the Prosecutor. The judge attracted the attention to the fact that in his opinion the procedure of the criminal case handover from the investigative department head to an investigator was violated. Namely, the head of the first department for major crimes of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod Region did not issue an appropriate procedural document but only left a resolution on the letter attached to the criminal case the investigation of which he entrusted to his subordinate. Judge Bondarenko, however, considered that a special ruling should have been issued for such a handover, and with this regard he issued a ruling on sending this case back to the Prosecutor’s Office. The court also changed the suspects’ measure of restraint from house imprisonment to written undertaking not to leave the place.
INGO «The Committee Against Torture» investigative department inspector Sergey Romanov, who represents the interests of the affected party Aleksandr Dmitriyev: «We do not agree to the judge’s ruling and intend to appeal against it after we receive the rationale of the ruling. Indeed, the head of the investigative authority is authorized to assign the investigation of a criminal case to specific investigator, but the law does not contain a demand that such citation is drawn up in the form of ruling. The investigator lawfully accepted the criminal case to initiate proceedings based on resolution on the accompanying letter, such right is vested in article 38 of the Criminal and Procedural Code. Unfortunately, the judge’s ruling on sending the case back to the Prosecutor has rather dangerous implications as a lot of evidence may be declared unacceptable. We hope that the Regional Court will clarify the situation and we shall be able to go on with a trial».