On March 29 on its web-site the Investigative Administration of the Russian Investigative Committee for Bashkiria commented on CAT’s publication regarding detainees’ ill-treatment in the 1st special investigation department. The authorities claim that “all facts are completely absurd and distort reality”. We are not surprised by the reaction, almost all allegations of victims who apply for help to the CAT in connection with tortures by the police are initially regarded unfounded, however, our public investigation experience shows that later courts find them justified, despite all obstacles created by investigators.
Let us have a closer look at some of the comments.
In his statement Alexey Kasyanov says that Ruslan Khamatkhanov was released unharmed and travelled 220 km to his home town where he went to hospital and claimed that he had fallen in the street and injured himself; that a preliminary check under Khamatkhanov’s wife’s application had been underway for 10 days, however the allegations could not be confirmed.
However, according to Khamatkhanov’s explanation, he was released around midnight, he was in a city he did not know, and, naturally, he went home. His medical record states: “ill since 1.02.12; between 15:00 – 23:00 beaten and tortured by the police in the Investigative Committee under the Ufa Prosecutor’s Office” (see below for confirmation).
Already on February 2, 2012 an investigator of the Oktyabrsky Department of Internal Affairs obtained Khamatkhanov’s explanation, and on February 6 the materials of the check were submitted to the Oktyabrsky Interdistrict Investigation Department. On February 8 they were referred to the 1st Special Investigation Department, i.e. the body where Khamatkhanov had been tortured. On March 15, 2012 head of this department V.M. Gureyev dismissed Khamatkhanov’s application. As for Khamatkhanov’s wife’s application, it was rejected because “it was not signed”. Only after we addressed the Russian Investigative Committee Chairman directly, the authorities started a preliminary check, but judging by Mr. Kasyanov’s statement, it is not objective, since the latter has announced its findings before its actual termination, thus prompting the only correct “outcome” to the investigator.
We would also like to pay your attention to the fact that the preliminary check in connection with Rudik Minibayev’s, Roman Mindibayev’s and Ivan Smirnov’s ill-treatment has been underway since 2006. Throughout that period the authorities issued fourteen unlawful refusals to instigate criminal proceedings which were quashed as a result of our appeals. The last refusals were quashed in March 2012. For five years the investigative authority did not acknowledge that the detention was unlawful, and they finally agreed to do so only after we addressed the Russian Investigative Committee Chairman. In such circumstances we cannot admit that the preliminary check conducted by the Bashkirian Investigative Administration was objective and effective. By the way, the local Investigative Administration Head has for some reason omitted the fact that after 1 night in remand prison Ivan Smirnov also signed a confession to rape and murder, but later his innocence was proved.
Alexey Kasyanov maintains that Sidorenko was not detained for the purpose of beating a confession out of him. However, like in other cases, Sidorenko was detained in the evening and, having spent the night in the investigative department, wrote a confession. Meanwhile, Sidorenko has described the circumstances of his abuse in great detail, as well as the appearance of each tormentor, and his descriptions coincide with Khamatkhanov’s ones, although the victims do not know each other and have not had a chance to meet to exchange that information.
The statement also reads: “I understand the desire of the authors and sources of false information to “pass the buck” and use this chance to besmear the Republican Investigative Administration and thus to escape responsibility.” It must be noted that the Committee Against Torture is not trying to establish guilt or innocence of the applicants, however it believes that norms and regulations are not optional, but mandatory, and do not depend on whether or not the individual is guilty. Crimes prevention (quite often limited to improving performance indicators) must not be organized in a criminal way. The desire “to pass the buck” is, in fact, characteristic of state agents who justify their crimes saying that a normal law-abiding citizen would not find himself in such a situation, hence, he deserves it!
We understand the position of the investigative authorities in respect of these cases perfectly well, because if they investigate these allegations as required by law, they will have to prosecute their own staff. Therefore, we are urging Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin to conduct an independent check with the help of federal level personnel in respect of all facts collected by the Committee Against Torture, since our experience shows that we cannot expect an objective investigation on the regional level.
In our turn we would like to remind Mr. Kasyanov that he can sue us, if he believes that information published by the Committee Against Torture is false and casts a slur on his institution. The Committee Against Torture will be pleased to provide proofs of omissions committed by the Bashkirian Investigative Administration under these and many other cases related to human rights violations to judicial authorities and mass media.