Reply of the Committee for Prevention of Torture's lawyer to the publication on the website of the Investigative Committee


24 November 2015

On 20 November 2015 the news on the progress of the pre-investigative check of the death of «Zhar-ptitsa» band drummer was published on the web site of the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the RF. Among other things, the authors complained that «ungrounded suppositions that the man was beaten up to death in the police department appeared in the mass media». However, to our regret, neither the activities of the investigators conducting the check with regards to Pestov’s death, nor this publication answer to the question why these suppositions are considered ungrounded. In relation to this we publish the stance of the lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Dmitry Piskounov, who represents the interests of Irina Pestova, the widow:

«Let us remember that the official check was initiated by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Dubna city on 5 September of this year, and on 18 September the materials were handed over to the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Moscow region investigator Vagiz Beklyashev. On 20 November the web site of the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Moscow region published the news «On the status of the pre-investigative check with regard to check of the death of «Zhar-ptitsa» band drummer. However, despite its title the larger part of the publication is dedicated to the crime that Sergey Pestov allegedly committed, whereas only several sentences is dedicated to the circumstances of this death.

The stance of the Investigative Committee is not clear when it is said with confidence that Pestov felt bad in the police department. Based on the content of the news it seems that the investigative authorities considered only one version of events, namely, that Pestov had a heart attack. At the same time the investigators fail to mention whether they checked the version that Pestov could die after illegal physical violence which was applied against him by the police officers during the apprehension or delivery to the police department.

Since the time when the Pestov’s widow applied to the Committee for Prevention of Torture we have accumulated a lot of questions to the investigators of the  Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Moscow region, which they prefer to ignore both during personal appointments and in writing. The questions are related to the efficiency, completeness and comprehensiveness  of the check performed by the Investigative Committee with regard to Pestov’s death. And until these questions are answered we tend to believe that the check is being conducted inefficiently.
I also find it rather strange that since 5 September of this year instead of 30 days, stated in the Criminal Procedural Code as maximum period, the check is going on over 70 days. At the same time the Investigative Committee has not notified either the applicant or her representatives on whether any decisions based on the results of the check were made, although such obligation is directly stated by the law.

As the Investigative Committee points out in its publication, «ungrounded suppositions that the man was beaten up to death in the police department appeared in the mass media». Which means, based on this wording, that the investigative authorities conducted a check with regards to the death of Pestov and came to the conclusion that he had not been beaten to death in the police department. However, there are witnesses who from the very start claimed that the police officers hit Sergey in the area of the neck which resulted in his nose bleeding. What happened after he was delivered to the police department still remains unknown; it could be a genteel conversation between Pestov and the police officers in full accordance to the law, it could be that the musician was beaten up by the law-enforcement officers. Taking into account the evidence of the witnesses of his apprehension, the second version of events has some grounds.
Again, we still unaware whether an expert examination of biological traces on the clothes of Sergey Pestov and of the traces on the cloth which he had his blood wiped off during the apprehension was indeed commissioned?  And if it was commissioned then why it was performed behind the back of the widow and her legal representatives? Where are its results?

Neither we nor the widow of Sergey Pestov knows whether the records from the interior and the exterior video surveillance cameras installed in the Dubna police department were seized. If they were seized, then based on these records, can it be established what condition Pestov was in, whether violence was used against him, whether he was released from the police department? No answers to these questions have been provided as yet. 

We could have gotten answers to these and many other questions as early as one and a half months ago, had the Investigative Committee not kept silent like an Indian shrine and had investigator Bekyashev not avoided us, not answering to the   motions and telephone calls. For some reason the investigators of the case of Sergey Pestov’s death preferred to choose the tactics of silence, having broken their own information blockade with the news the content of which boils down to Pestov’s drug use and his death due to heart condition. 

Neither Irina Pestova, nor us, her representatives, are satisfied with such information on the progress of the check, since it does not correspond either to the requirements of the law or to the terms of the check’s efficiency in the slightest degree and sooner or later we will make the Investigative Committee perform their  professional duty for a citizen applied to the state authorities for help.
I’m not inclined to think that the Investigative Committee is dealing with covering the crimes performed by the police officers, moreover, I leave open the possibility that the law-enforcement officers acted according to the law, however, the complete absence of transparency in the investigators’ work leads to serious doubts concerning the objectivity and unbiased character of the performed check».

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