Yesterday, on 14 July 2020, in the course of the judicial examination it was discovered that officer of Counter Extremism Center for the Republic of Ingushetia Andrey Ovada, who previously was the only suspect in the case on tortures of Albert Khamkhoev, became a witness in this case back on 26 October. And the criminal case itself was suspended for the tenth time on 10 February of this year.
As we have previously reported, in December 2017, Aza Khamkhoeva from Yandare settlement in Ingushetia applied to the Committee Against Torture. She reported that on 14 November 2017 at about 3 p.m. several masked people in black and camouflage uniform, armed with automatic rifles, stormed the apartment where she lived. Three persons in civilian clothes armed with pistols accompanied them. According to Aza, unidentified masked people captured her son Albert Khamkhoev, tied his hands up, made him stand against the wall and put a pistol in his hand, after that they put the pistol in this belt.
“After that they brought Albert to the yard and again made him stand against the wall, took out the magazine from the pistol (where two cartridges were left) and made him lay on the ground. The put these actions on record in the presence of two attesting witness, who came together with the armed masked men. Then the masked people together with the people in civilian clothes performed a search of our household. The search itself lasted for about two hours. Nothing illegal was found, and it made an impression that this was done in order to comply with formalities”, – Aza Khamkhoeva described.
Further developments were described by Albert Khamkhoev to defense lawyer Aleksandr Karavaev, provided by the Committee Against Torture: “I was put into Priora vehicle, there were five men inside together with me. Right away they put a black plastic bag on me, braided it with Scotch tape and were beating him up all the way non-stop without explaining the reasons, poked a barrel of a machine gun at him. After that I was taken to some building (as I was, in a plastic bag and handcuffed). They brought me to the second floor, put me on my knees and continued to beat me up. They were beating me up with a plastic bottle filled with water. Then they put some pins on my fingers and started to electrocute me so that I passed out a couple of times. They took the wires off my fingers, attached them in the area of the earlap, and electrocuted me again”.
According to Albert, after the tortures he was taken out of the building and one of the law-enforcement officers told him that they were in the Center for counteraction of extremist activity of the Republic of Ingushetia. Albert also explained to the defense lawyer that the firearm that was seized from him was received from illegal armed groups.
A criminal case was initiated with regard to Albert Khamkhoev under part 1 Article 222 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“illegal purchase, transfer, sales, weapons transportation or bearing, or its main parts, as well as ammunition”). On 16 November 2017, he was taken in custody for two months.
“On 17 November, at about eight in the evening I was taken from Temporary Detention Facility to the FSB building in Magas. In that building I was again tortured with electricity”, – Albert Khamkhoev comments.
On 21 November 2017, human-rights ombudsman of the Republic of Ingushetia Djambulat Ozdoev visited Albert at the Pre-Trial Detention Center of Karabulak. The ombudsman confirmed that he saw numerous signs of physical violence on Khamkhoev’s body.
Subsequently, on 10 September 2018, Albert Khamkhoev was sentenced by the Nazran District Court of the Republic of Ingushetia to one and a half years of conditional prison term. On 13 November 2018 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia changed this verdict and imposed punishment in the form of imprisonment for the same period of time, having decided that the sentence shall be considered served taking into account the time spent at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility and under house arrest.
Due to Albert’s complaint about torture, on 22 January 2018, investigator of the Nazran Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Republic of Ingushetia Gandaloev passed a ruling on initiating criminal proceedings against unidentified police officers regarding the crime under item “a” Part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“abuse of office with the use of violence”).
On 6 June 2018, the first suspect appeared in the case – Andrey Ovada, officer of the regional counter-extremism center, who was the senior investigative officer at the time when the crime was committed.
After the investigative authorities suspended the investigation of this case for the eighth time due to impossibility of suspect Andrey Ovada’s involvement in it, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied with a request to select a measure of restraint for him. The investigator dismissed it on the grounds that the suspect shows up on time upon notification.
Human rights defenders submitted a complaint against the investigator’s dismissal at the Magas District Court. In the course of yesterday’s court hearing for this complaint investigator Magomed-Amin Shadyzhev notified the parties of the trial that back on 26 October 2019 all suspicions were lifted from Andrey Ovada and he became a witness in the criminal case on tortures. In addition, the investigator informed that the case itself was suspended for the tenth time on 10 February 2020 – this time with wording “due to failure to identify the person to be involved in the capacity of the defendant”.
“When in March of this year I was familiarizing myself with the materials of the criminal case on tortures of Albert Khamkhoev, there were no materials stating that Ovada was no longer a suspect and that the case was suspended for the tenth time, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov, representing Albert Khamkhoev’s interests, comments. – We are certainly unpleasantly surprised that the investigator resorted to the act that can be qualified as forgery by an official. With regard to this we are planning to submit a crime report so that the unexpected apparition of an important document in the case ten months later would be adequately evaluated from the legal point of view. And, certainly, we will submit a complaint against the newly appeared ruling, thanks to which Ovada received a status of witness, as well. The complaint against the tenth suspending of the criminal case will be examined as early as next week”.