Today the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling in the case of Sergey Gorschuk from Nizhny Novgorod. The Strasbourg judges recognized the fact of Sergey’s police torture in 2007, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not conduct an efficient investigation of this fact.
As we have previously reported, Sergey Gorschuk applied to the Committee Against Torture in 2008 with a complaint of torture by the officers of the Kanavinsky District Department of the Interior of Nizhny Novgorod, who suspected him of murder.
Sergey said that on 14 September of 2007 he was detained by police officers at his relatives’ country house and brought to the Kanavinsky District Department of the Interior of Nizhny Novgorod. He was taken to the office where his acquaintance was sitting. Sergey immediately noticed that the face of his acquaintance was swollen, with traces of battery. The police officers told Gorschuk that his acquaintance provided the testimony which proved Sergey was guilty of murder, and they demanded a confession from Gorschuk. He refused. Then the police officers brought him to another room where they started to beat him up.
«They handcuffed me to a chair and started to hit and kick me. I passed out several times, but they continued to beat me up», – the applicant told the human rights defenders.
Then Sergey was questioned as a suspect, after that the court imposed a pre-trial restraint on him and he was sent to the investigation cell. The investigation cell officers thoroughly registered numerous bruises and scratches on the Sergey’s body. This became the key evidence of the fact that the applicant got his injuries when he was under supervision of authorities.
Subsequently, according to Sergey, the police investigators came to his investigation cell, where using threats forced him to confessed of murder, for which he served a sentence, having been released on parole in 2013.
Gorschuk applied to the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office with a complaint of torture. However, the investigative body, having conducted the check, did not initiate criminal proceedings against the police officers. Totally three refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were issued in the case. The lawyers of the Committee Against Torture, having exhausted all the domestic remedies, were forced to apply to the European Court of Human Rights.
Today the Strasbourg judges have unanimously established that the Russian Federation has committed two violations of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with regards to the applicant – in the part of torture prohibition and the obligation to conduct an effective official investigation. The Strasbourg court has once again emphasized that in the situations like the one happened to Gorschuk, the authorities shall initiate a criminal case and conduct a full-scale investigation performing all the necessary investigative activities, not to be confined to the pre-investigation check.
As a result, the victim was awarded a compensation of 17 000 euro (over 1 200 000 rubles).
Lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Yevgeny Chilikov: «In the case of Sergey Gorschuk the investigators, in fact, abstained from the investigation. Despite numerous bodily injuries on Sergey’s body the law-enforcement officers never explained the cause of his injuries. The court did not see into this case either, and Sergey’s testimony, as well as the testimony of his acquaintance, who under torture was forced to bear false witness against Gorschuk, became the basis for the prosecution».
According to Anton Ryzhov, representing Sergey Gorschuk in the European Court, today’s conclusions of the European Court of Human Rights were foreseeable. «The medical documentation, contained in the case and correlating to the applicant’s evidence, leaves no room for doubt that Sergey was subjected to illegal violence, – Ryzhov emphasized. – There is little surprise that in the course of the court hearing the Russian Federation admitted all the violations, mentioned in the complaint, and the Court could not but agree to the state».
The lawyer also added that now the Committee for Prevention of Torture is intending to insist on initiating a criminal case based on Gorschuk’s torture, since the conclusions of the European Court of Human Rights serve a solid legal basis for that.