The Committee for Prevention of Torture commenced investigation of three deaths in Penal Colony No.14 of the Niznhy Novgorod region


22 September 2015

Relatives of convicts Aleksandr Kulemin, Mikhail Kozlov and Aleksandr Kalyakin who died in 2014 during service of their sentence in Penal Colony No.14 of the Chief Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia (Sukhovobezvodnoye settlement). Human rights defenders intend to petition the investigatory authorities to declare the status of the applicants as victims and to question former head of the colony Vasily Voloshin. 

At the moment it is known that the regional investigative authority has already initiated criminal proceedings on two episodes. There has been no information on Mikhail Kozlov’s death investigation so far.

In all of the cases penal colony officers explained to the applicants that their relatives died of natural causes or as a result of an accident. However, members of the Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) on detention facilities human rights monitoring managed to question over twenty convicts who saw bodily injuries on the deceased shortly before death, and some of them witnessed brutal battery of the victims. One of the questioned convicts even confessed that he was forced to hold the victim while others were beating him up. In the morning of the next day the battered victim died. 

Sergey Kozlov, a brother of one of the convicts who died in 2014, told the human rights defenders: «When we received my brother’s body we saw that it was covered in scratches, teeth were knocked out. The colony officer claimed that it was a accident».

Nina Markova, a sister of Aleksandr Kulemin, died in 2014, told the human rights defenders that she immediately noticed a huge hematoma on her brother’s face during his burial: «We saw that his nose was broken and there was a huge hematoma on his forehead. It was clear to everyone that Aleksandr was murdered. We told that he felt bad though Aleksandr was a healthy young man and had never complained about his health».

As we have previously reported, this penal colony for a long time already has been in the focus of attention of human rights defenders from the Committee for Prevention of Torture and PMC members. For instance, in August of this year over a hundred of convicts applied to PMC members with complaints against torture, blackmail and moral coercion. The complaints mainly concerned the convicts who collaborated with the Penal Colony administration and were actually performing the function of the authority in the colony: they could punish the convicts at their will, as well as could freely move around the facility territory.

Dmitry Utukin, lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture: «We drew up power of attorney from the relatives of the deceased convicts and now intend to represent their interests in all instances. We already filed motions on declaring a status of victims for our applicants. Criminal cases have been opened for two cases, but the relatives know nothing about the progress of investigation. We also intend to petition that former head of the colony Vasily Voloshin is questioned. There is some information that he is hiding but until now we have not received any no official confirmation of that. We are convinced that at the present moment the investigators have all the tools available in order to conduct efficient investigation of these cases. We have information about several witnesses who are ready to testify. Their details have been already sent to the Investigative Committee».

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