The Prosecutor’s Office representatives ensured that the Leninsky District Court of Orenburg resumes the investigation of the criminal case based on the fact of incitement to suicide of convict Aleksandr Belousov at Penal Colony No.4. Belousov complained that the colony officers abused him: hit him, did not provide medical assistance, dipped his head into the toilet pit.
As we have previously reported, on 5 August 2019, а man called to the Committee Against Torture and presented himself as Aleksandr Belousov. He told human rights defenders that he was serving sentence at Penal Colony No.4 of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Orenburg region. Aleksandr reported that he and other convicts are regularly subjected to abuse and battery by the penal institution officers. According to Aleksandr, the convicts’ abuse and abasement of human dignity by the way of dipping their heads in the toilet pit is in common practice at the penal colony.
According to Aleksandr, he was inflicted serious sufferings due to the fact that the penal colony officers refused to provide him with appropriate medical assistance for asthma treatment.
Due to all these reasons, as Aleksandr indicated, he committed suicide attempts — cut his hands. The person who called asked human rights defenders to hand the data he reported over to the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as distribute the information on what is going on in the social media or hand it over to mass media.
“I decided to commit suicide because I don’t have any more patience to endure all this lawlessness. They have this thing which they call “stretching”, it is when they hit your head against the wall and kick your feet – it’s supposed to be stretching. It was a common practice to apply it for failure to comply with anything. Another thing when the convicts were bent, brought to the toilet bowl and their heads were dipped into it. So they do all this in such a way that there is little beating as such. I submitted several complaints, as I understand they absolutely don’t go anywhere from here. I have nothing to fear anymore. My head was dipped into the toilet pit, I was beaten up”, — Aleksandr Belousov told over the phone.
On the next day, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin handed over the data submitted by Belousov to the Prosecutor’s Office providing supervision of legal compliance at penal institutions.
On 12 August 2019, some man called human rights defenders office, this time some unknown man called who reported that Aleksandr Belousov hanged himself. On the same day, the parents of the deceased, Tatyana Belousov and Sergey Belousov applied to the Committee Against Torture. In their statement they asked to conduct a public investigation and render legal assistance based on the fact of their son’s death. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Investigative Committee with a crime report as well as submitted a number of motions to perform checking activities.
On 3 September 2019, Senior Investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Department for the Northern Administrative District of Orenburg of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Orenburg region Lyubov Dyekina opened a criminal case with regard to the crime committed against Aleksandr Belousov, provided by part 1 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“incitement to suicide”).
On 31 October 2019, investigator of the same department Vladimir Yartsev dismissed the criminal case due to the absence of the event of crime. However, this ruling was quashed by the superiors as illegal.
After the investigation of the criminal case was resumed, it was extended several times.
Only on 30 April 2020, eight months after the investigation started, investigator Vladimir Yartsev decided to question lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin, with whom Aleksandr Belousov talked a few days before his death. Upon the human rights defender’s request, the audio record of that conversation was attached to the materials of the criminal case, where the deceased informs about his intention to commit suicide due to systematic abuse by the Federal Penitentiary Service officers.
On 7 May 2020, investigator Yartsev dismissed the investigation of this criminal case for the second time.
“Actions that led to A.S.Belousov suicide, were attempted by the latter on his own in order to ensure softening his terms of serving punishment, without the involvement of third persons, i.e. are not criminal”, – investigator Yartsev pointed out in his ruling.
In addition, according to investigator, the deceased convict did not convey to lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin “any complaints about anyone systematically abusing him or inciting to suicide”, although during the interrogation Rakhmatulin claimed exactly the opposite.
Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture appealed to court against the investigator’s ruling dismissing the case.
On 24 September 2020, judge of the Dzerzhinsky District Court of Orenburg Elena Verkashinskaya declared illegal the dismissal of this criminal case and obliged the Investigative Committee to correct the committed violation. The criminal case was returned to the Investigative Department for the investigation to be resumed.
On 30 December 2020, investigator with the Investigative Department for the Northern Administrative District of Orenburg with the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Orenburg region Marat Kinzhigaliyev dismissed the criminal case for the third time due to absence of the criminal event.
On 11 March 2021, Deputy Prosecutor of the Orenburg region Andrey Vyazikov passed a ruling in which he deemed the conducted investigation to be incomplete and addressed to court requesting that the dismissal of the criminal case is quashed. In his ruling, Deputy Prosecutor pointed out that the “dismissal of the criminal case does not contain sufficient motivation of the decision taken”, as well as pointed out at a number of drawbacks of the conducted investigation.
The Investigative Committee representative asked the court to dismiss the Prosecutor’s motion, claiming that the investigation is conducted fully, and that the ruling passed by the investigator was a legal one.
On 19 March, judge of the Leninsky District Court of Orenburg Aleksandr Artamonov, having listened to the arguments of the participants, satisfied the Prosecutor’s motion and decided to quash the ruling of investigator Kinzhigaliyev on dismissal of the criminal case.
Today, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture received a copy of this court ruling, after which the investigator will have to once again resume the investigation of this criminal case.
“We no longer believe that the investigators and the superiors of the Investigative Department for the Northern District of Orenburg are interested in objective and professional investigation of the circumstances of Aleksandr Belousov’s death, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Belousov comments. – That is why we shall insist that the case is transferred to the first department for major cases with the regional Investigative Department. We also intend to submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights”.