The case of Sergey Pestov: the regional court upheld the "refusal" verdict


07 October 2016

The Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow once again refused to declare illegal the refusal to initial criminal proceedings in relation to the death of musician Sergey Pestov.

As we have previously reported the lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture applied to the Babushkinsky District Court due to inefficient (in our opinion) check in the course of which the Investigation Committee should have established true circumstances of Sergey Pestov’s death.

Pestov died on 5 September 2015 almost immediately after he was found in the state of coma by the ambulance team in Dubna police department. The reanimation attempts were not a success. The forensic medical examination then lasted for a month and issued a conclusion that Sergey Pestov had died of atherosclerotic heart disease and ten fresh hematomas on his body were not the cause of this death.

The Investigation Committee started the check immediately on the same day the Sergey Pestov died and finished it two and a half months later, on 26 November 2015. During this time the investigation drew a conclusion that Sergey Pestov fell on the drum set when he was being arrested in the garage that is why he got two scratch marks on his forehead. However, the situational expertise was not conducted. The expert examination of the fabric which was used to wipe the blood off Sergey’s face was not conducted either. The investigator studied the clothes of Sergey Pestov only a month and a half after the tragic incident and he performed only visual inspection. No biological expert examination was conducted. In fact, the investigation did not strive to find reasonable explanations of the fresh hematomas of the body of Mr Pestov, they were satisfied with the experts findings that the hematomas had no cause-and-effect relations to the death.

In the police department Pestov was interrogated by lead investigator Maksim Zoonegin. According to his testimonies, Pestov was released from the police department at night and he promised to come back in the morning for further discussion. Then, according to the version of Mr Zoonegin, in 10 a.m. on 5 September Pestov turned up in his room where he immediately fell unconscious.

– The fact that Mr Pestov was released at night from the police department seems quite odd, as according to the criminal case materials a large amount of cannabis was found in his garage. Besides, 100 meters away from the police building there is an apartment owned by Sergey’s mother-in-law where he lived with his wife because there were repairs works in their own flat – says Dmitry Piskunov, lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. – The investigator assumes that Peskov could go to sleep to his garage instead of this apartment which is located much farther. But the bank security guard located near the garage did not see Pestov coming there at night or leaving in the morning. And there are no signs of Mr Pestov in the records of the video cameras located in different parts of the city. Besides, the only person who claims that he saw Mr Pestov entering the building of the department of Interior on 5 September in the morning was this very lead investigator Zoonegin. Other officers did not see Pestov entering the police department.

Making a ruling on the legal character of the refusal to initial a criminal case Anton Martynenko, the judge of the Babushkinsky Court, considered that the circumstances provided by the witnesses of the incident are not true and the testimonies of the police officers are consistent and are verified by the materials of the checking. At the same time the judge did not give any evaluation to the precise arguments given by the representative of Irina Pestova in court. The assumption that Mr Pestov’s death could be caused by the negligent lack of action of the police officers and he, in fact, did not leave the building was ignored by the court.

– Of course, we cannot be satisfied with this ruling of the court, – comments Dmitry Piskunov. – Once the Moscow City Court annulled the verdict of the Babushkinsky Court on the same appeal. Then the material was sent for recommitment. This time we intend to struggle for justice in the appeals instance.

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