On September 28, 2011 the Moskovsky district court of Nizhny Novgorod pronounced the verdict under the criminal case against police captain Sergey Kuzmenkov accused of abuse of office – beating Nizhny Novgorod resident Pavel Guryanov in the Moskovsky District Police Department on 1 July 2010. During the debates the prosecution insisted that the defendant should be found guilty of the charge against him and sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment without suspension of execution. You may remember that Kuzmenkov, who at the moment of crime commission was a police captain, was accused of abuse of office with ill-treatment. Besides, the policeman did his best to entangle the investigation by furnishing false eye-witnesses from among operative investigators of the Moskovsky District Police Department (later on the court received major’s colleagues’ testimonies with a grain of salt).
Although the police officer was charged with a criminal offense, he was not only not dismissed from law enforcement bodies, but even managed to become a major. After the verdict was pronounced, Sergey Kuzmenkov who had discredited the police by his actions, was cashiered and fired with a 3-year disqualification from holding public office. Instead of de facto imprisonment, the court decided to suspend the sentence for 4 years, which is absolutely contrary to the European Court practice requiring real deprivation of liberty for such a grave crime as tortures.
We would like to remind you that Kuzmenkov, being intoxicated, lost his bag with his police ID in a cafe in the Moskovsky district of Nizhny Novgorod. Having noticed that his bag was missing, he decided that he had been robbed. Suspicion fell on Pavel Guryanov whom the officer decided to interrogate personally. The official investigation and public investigation conducted by the CAT have established that on July 1, 2010 Guryanov was detained by the police at home. He was taken to the 4th police department of the Nizhny Novgorod Directorate of the Interior and cruelly beaten there. Guryanov spent three days in hospital and was released with the following diagnosis: posttraumatic compressive-ischemic polyneuropathy of shinbone nerves of both lower extremities. Despite all doctors’ efforts, the victim’s left leg will never regain its functionality. Pavel is still suffering from torture consequences.
After receiving Guryanov’s application the ICAT lawyers questioned witnesses, filed an application to the Russian Investigation Committee. On July 6, 2010 Guryanov underwent a forensic medical examination during which the signs of beating, tying up with a rope, using handcuffs and the stool were documented. In this case, the CAT did its best to ensure prompt instigation of criminal proceedings. Surprisingly, the official investigation dealt with the allegations effectively which is, unfortunately, a rare case in ICAT practice.
All proofs provided by the prosecution were rendered admissible in the verdict. Judge Orekhov considered Kuzmenkov’s guilt fully proven.
The Committee Against Torture believes that the verdict is unjust not only from the point of view of morality and Russian case law, but also in the light of ECtHR practice which has many times emphasized that the prohibition of torture is a fundamental right in a democratic society.
The CAT staff who represented Guryanov’s interests during the pre-trial investigation and in court are going to appeal against the verdict.