Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the European Court in the interests of Rustam Kuchmenov from Nalchik, who suffered from violence applied against him by the police officers. In the application it is stated that the law-enforcement officers violated Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, prohibiting torture.
In June 2017, police officers stormed into Rustam’s apartment. Without explaining the reason, human rights defenders handcuffed him, put a black plastic bag on his head and took him to the Department of Criminal Investigations. There the police officers demanded that he wrote a full confession of having committed a theft.
According to Mr Kuchmenov, after he refused to testify against himself, the police officers tied his hands and feet up with scotch tape. One of the officers was pressing Kuchmenov’s head to the floor with his foot, and the other was holding the victim’s feet. Kuchmenov asked them not to press his neck since he had a previous injury, but in response one of the police officers said he was going to squash the head and play football with it. Then the police officers started to torture him with electricity. When the apprehended once again refused to confess, the police officer forced a bodkin into his thigh twice. After that Rustam incriminated himself.
Soon after that, Rustam applied to the Investigative Committee with a torture complaint. In July, a criminal case was opened against Anzor Ashkhotov under item “a” part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”). Nevertheless, no investigative activities with the victim’s participation were conducted. Then, Rustam applied to the Committee Against Torture for help.
In May 2019, the criminal case on torture was dismissed for the first time, but after the complaint of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture this ruling was quashed as illegal. At that time, the criminal case was transferred for investigation at the republican level. However, in the end of December of the same year, the criminal case was again dismissed, and resumed again and returned to the Investigative Department for Nalchik.
After the investigation of this case was resumed once again, the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a motion to the investigator requesting to conduct a number of investigative activities, but he failed to respond, that is why the human rights defenders applied to court. Lawyer Magomed Alamov recalled that at the first hearing the investigator failed to recall what ruling he passed in the criminal case. In addition, it was found out in court that he never conducted the investigative activities.
In total, the case was dismissed six times. Lawyers with the Committee appealed against the last ruling issued in August 2020, but both the Nalchik City Court and the Supreme Court of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic declared it legal and justified. The fifth court of cassation upheld the rulings of the inferior courts. Recently, the lawyers appealed against the rulings of the inferior courts at the Supreme Court of the RF.
In November 2019, Rustam was sentenced to six years of penal colony for a series of thefts.
— The investigation still does not have a convincing theory on how Kuchmenov developed his bodily injuries, despite the witnesses’ evidence and medical proofs. As a result, after the case was once again dismissed, we were forced to apply to the ECHR, — lawyer Mariya Zadorozhnaya commented.