Today, on 19 April, judge of the Avtozavodskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod Aleksandr Pakhomov pronounced the verdict for six criminal investigation officers of the Avtozavodskiy District Police Department, who were charged with several episodes of abuse of office and an episode of illegal home invasion. The court declared all of the defendants guilty of crime under item 3 part 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («Abuse of office using violence or threat of using violence»), however, the pronounced sentence is conditional. The defendants were declared not guilty in the episode of home invasion, since the court considered that they were acting within the limits of law «On Police».
(The defendants and solicitors listening to the verdict)
As we have previously reported, on March 27, 2012 the Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture received applications from Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov alleging they were subjected to unlawful violence by the police officers of Police Department no. 1 of Nizhny Novgorod Department of Interior. It took the investigators of the Investigative Committee over two and a half years to take it to court.
From the very start the defendants took active measures for their defense and were putting pressure on the progress of investigation, for which different media and administrative resources were engaged.
Thus the defendants succeeded in dismissal from the case work of investigator Yevgeny Khrokalo, who initiated the investigation. However, later on the case materials were transferred to the regional department of the Investigative Committee and the investigation team comprising of three investigators was established. Its head Yury Yelantsev was able to stand firm against the pressure of the patrons of the police officers from Avtozavodskiy region, and the case was brought to trial.
In the course of hearing dedicated to selecting a measure of restraint for the defendants Yelantsev told the court about the obstacles in the investigation of this case: «How are we supposed to work? Heads of criminal police come over and write personal sureties (in support of their subordinates – author’s note). The victims addressed to us two statements on applying to them measures of state protection since they are under apprehension of their lives. We applied to Central Internal Affairs Directorate, a Deputy Head of State Protection Division came to see us. He said: the viewpoint of Tsyganov (Viktor Tsyganov – former Deputy Head of Central Internal Affairs Directorate, suspended from his post in August 2013 after prisoners’ escape in Nizhny Novgorod region – author’s note) – «we don’t protect criminals». I have a question then: where else in Russia shall I apply for state protection? The state tells us: «Dear Investigative Committee, tell us why citizens are beaten up in the police? Sort this thing out!» We start to dig into it. And right away 23 generals show up who tell us that our performance is poor. No-one can guarantee the safety of the victims in this case now».
The court proceedings took one and a half year – over sixty court sessions took place, in the course of which the materials of forty four volumes of the criminal case were examined and over fifty witnesses were questioned.
Today the court declared all of the defendants guilty of crime under item 3 part 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («Abuse of office using violence or threat of using violence»). Former deputy head of Police Department No.1 of Nizhny Novgorod Vladimir Samsonov and former head of the criminal investigation unit Sergey Alimov are sentenced to 4 years and 6 months of suspended prison term, former head of the crimes against property unit Ivan Vechkanov – to 3 years and 8 months of suspended prison term, former senior criminal investigator Sergey Nikolayev and former deputy head of the criminal investigation department Andrey Balandin – to 3 years and 6 months of suspended prison term, former criminal investigator of the crimes against property unit Evgeniy Telenkov – to 3 years and 3 months of suspended prison term.
«Despite the convicting character of the judgment, we are not satisfied with it. All the police community of the city was following the proceedings, and now, in essence, it received a signal: you can torture trying to improve the crime-detection rate, the worst thing that can happen to you is only a conditional sentence. Over two years the representatives of the Investigative Committee were working on the case, who, despite the unprecedented pressure exerted by the Ministry of Interior, still managed to complete the investigation of the case, pass the conclusion to indict and take the case to court. The victims repeatedly complained of threats by the defendants, one of the witnesses pointed out that the police officers were intimidating her when she was pregnant. Now, when the criminals remained at large, we cannot be sure of the victims’ safety, taking into account that even the State Protection representatives had already refused to protect them before. We shall definitely challenge the verdict in the appeals instance», – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Dmitry Utoukin, representing the interests of one of the victims, commented on today’s court ruling.