Strasbourg will give its opinion about tortures with electricity


28 August 2009

Today we have sent an application of Sergey Lyapin from Nizhny Novgorod  claiming that he was tortured with electricity to the European Court of Human Rights. Applying to the European Court is a forced measure provoked by the fact that for half a year Russian investigation bodies have refused to start criminal proceedings under Lyapin’s torture complaint and to investigate it effectively.   

   The facts of the case are as follows. According to Sergey, at night on 24-25 April 2008 he was picking metal scraps near one of garage blocks in the village of Ilyinogorskoye (Volodarsky district of Nizhny Novgorod region). All of a sudden, he was detained by the Volodarsky police on suspicion of theft, as he was told.  

At the police station he was beaten up. After that, policemen took a small box with a handle, there were two bare wires approximately 10 cm each attached to the box. The police tied the wires to Lyapin’s small fingers and switched the device on. In order to silence the victim up the officers made a sort of a gag out of a piece of cloth and put it into Mr. Lyapin’s mouth. One of the officers held the gag inside the victim’s mouth and the other turned the handle and reattached the wires if they got loose. They took turns to rotate the handle.  Some time later one of them proposed to shower Lyapin with water. The officers poured water on the victim’s head and hands. Due to electric shock Lyapin fainted several times, he got burns on his hands.

Photo: Mr. Lyapin’s swollen hands with burns. The pictures were taken by the victim’s wife right after he was released.

After that the police conducted a series of investigative actions with the detainee. Later the justice of peace sentenced Mr. Lyapin to 5 days of administrative arrest for “resistance to the police” and he was transferred to a special detention facility to serve his sentence.   

The following day Mr. Lyapin got worse аnd an ambulance took him first to Dzerzhinsk and later to Nizhny Novgorod, to hospital 40 in the Avtozavodsky district.  He stayed in hospital from 26 April till 7 May 2008, the diagnosis was “concussion, contusions of the neck and chest, thermal burns on both hands”.   

When Sergey got out of hospital he applied to the investigation authorities hoping that his application would be thoroughly checked. However, still no criminal proceedings are instigated under his complaint; investigators have already issued seven refusals to start a criminal case, six of them have been found unlawful and unmotivated.

It should be mentioned that Lyapin’s case is rather high-profile. For example, it was included in the Amnesty International Report 2009 “State of the world’s human rights” which has a chapter on tortures in Russia. 

Sergey Lyapin has failed to restore his rights on the national level and had to resort to international human rights mechanisms. Now Lyapin’s case which is very similar to the case of Alexey Mikheyev is to be tried by the Strasbourg court.  

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