Today, on 21 June 2021, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with an application on behalf of Albert Khamkhoev from Ingushetia who complains of violence applied against him at the Anti-Extremism Center with the republican Ministry of the Interior in November 2017. Human rights defenders think that the Russian authorities violated the articles of the European Convention, guaranteeing freedom from torture and the right to effective investigation with regard to Khamkhoyev. At the national level, the Khamkhoev’s torture case was dismissed for fourteen times and the only suspect was transferred to a category of witnesses.
As we have previously reported, in December 2017, Aza Khamkhoeva from Yandare settlement in Ingushetia applied to the Committee Against Torture. She reported that on 14 November 2017 at about 3 p.m. several masked people in black and camouflage uniform, armed with automatic rifles, stormed the apartment where she lived. Three persons in civilian clothes armed with pistols accompanied them. According to Aza, unidentified masked people captured her son Albert Khamkhoev, tied his hands up, made him stand against the wall and put a pistol in his hand, after that they put the pistol in this belt.
“After that they brought Albert to the yard and again made him stand against the wall, took out the magazine from the pistol (where two cartridges were left) and made him lay on the ground. The put these actions on record in the presence of two attesting witness, who came together with the armed masked men. Then the masked people together with the people in civilian clothes performed a search of our household. The search itself lasted for about two hours. Nothing illegal was found, and it made an impression that this was done in order to comply with formalities”, – Aza Khamkhoeva described.
Further developments were described by Albert Khamkhoev to defense lawyer Aleksandr Karavaev, provided by the Committee Against Torture: “I was put into Priora vehicle, there were five men inside together with me. Right away they put a black plastic bag on me, braided it with Scotch tape and were beating him up all the way non-stop without explaining the reasons, poked a barrel of a machine gun at him. After that I was taken to some building (as I was, in a plastic bag and handcuffed). They brought me to the second floor, put me on my knees and continued to beat me up. They were beating me up with a plastic bottle filled with water. Then they put some pins on my fingers and started to electrocute me so that I passed out a couple of times. They took the wires off my fingers, attached them in the area of the earlap, and electrocuted me again”.
According to Albert, after the tortures he was taken out of the building and one of the law-enforcement officers told him that they were in the Center for counteraction of extremist activity of the Republic of Ingushetia. Albert also explained to the defense lawyer that the firearm that was seized from him was received from illegal armed groups.
A criminal case was initiated with regard to Albert Khamkhoev under part 1 Article 222 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“illegal purchase, transfer, sales, weapons transportation or bearing, or its main parts, as well as ammunition”). On 16 November 2017, he was taken in custody for two months.
“On 17 November, at about eight in the evening I was taken from Temporary Detention Facility to the FSB building in Magas. In that building I was again tortured with electricity”, – Albert Khamkhoev comments.
On 21 November 2017, human-rights ombudsman of the Republic of Ingushetia Djambulat Ozdoev visited Albert at the Pre-Trial Detention Center of Karabulak. The ombudsman confirmed that he saw numerous signs of physical violence on Khamkhoev’s body.
Subsequently, on 10 September 2018, Albert Khamkhoev was sentenced by the Nazran District Court of the Republic of Ingushetia to one and a half years of conditional prison term. On 13 November 2018 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia changed this verdict and imposed punishment in the form of imprisonment for the same period of time, having decided that the sentence shall be considered served taking into account the time spent at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility and under house arrest.
Due to Albert’s complaint about torture, on 22 January 2018, investigator of the Nazran Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Republic of Ingushetia Gandaloev passed a ruling on initiating criminal proceedings against unidentified police officers regarding the crime under item “a” Part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“abuse of office with the use of violence”).
On 6 June 2018, the first suspect appeared in the case – Andrey Ovada, officer of the regional counter-extremism center, who was the senior investigative officer at the time when the crime was committed.
After the investigative authorities suspended the investigation of this case several times due to impossibility of suspect Andrey Ovada’s involvement in it, and the investigator dismissed a motion on selecting a measure of restraint for him, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a complaint to the Magas District Court.
During one of the court hearings in July of last year, investigator Magomed-Amin Shadyzhev provided the court with documents from last year, which had been previously missing in the case materials, which establish that back on 26 October 2019 all suspicions were lifted from Andrey Ovada and he became a witness in the criminal case on tortures. In addition, the investigator informed that the case itself was suspended for the tenth time on 10 February 2020 – this time “due to impossibility to establish a person to be involved in the capacity of a defendant”.
In total, during the time of the investigation the criminal case was suspended fourteen times, last time in May 2021. After familiarization with the materials of the criminal case, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture will appeal against this ruling.
“Several interrogations of the victim was performed in the framework of the criminal case as well as identification, in the course of which the victim identified Ovada with confidence, by distinctive marks, including the tattoo on the neck, , – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov describes. – In addition, an investigative experiment was conducted, by the results of which it was established that Albert may have seen his torturer. The expert examination was conducted which established damage to the victim’s health. Another notable fact is that the former officer of the Anti-Extremism Center with the Ministry of the Interior for Ingushetia provided evidence and reported to the investigative authorities that he saw Andrey Ovada and Ibragim Eldzharkiyev coming out of the room, where, according to Albert, he was tortured there. Despite all the evidence, the investigator dismissed the criminal case against the suspect and suspended the investigation time after time. At the moment, we know about fourteen dismissals”.
Due to the failure to ensure the effective and objective investigation at the national level, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied today to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Albert Khamkhoev. Human rights defenders are convinced that the state violated the article of the European Convention on prohibition of torture and the right to effective legal remedy with regard to Albert.