Today, on 26 November 2018, the Stavropolsky Territorial Court upheld the ruling of the court of the first instance which declared the refusal of the investigator to initiate the criminal case based on Maksim Lapunov’s complaint against torture in the Grozny police to be legal. With regard to this, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of Lapunov, will have to apply to the European Court of Human Rights.
As we have already reported, Maksim Lapunov applied to the Investigative Committee of Russia with a complaint, stating that in spring 2017 he was illegally detained in Grozny by the police officers in civilian clothes and taken to the police department basement where he was beaten up by cuts of plastic tubing. According to the applicant, he was kept in that basement from 16 to 28 March 2017, after that he was released and instructed not to apply to law-enforcement agencies on any account. However, Lapunov’s application was received on 21 September 2017 at the Chief Investigative Directorate of Russia, and a check was initiated with its regard.
On 28 September the applicant himself arrived at Essentuki of the Stavropol Territory, where he was questioned by the investigator and filed a motion on applying state protection measures to him. However, during almost three weeks of his stay at the North Caucasus the investigation never managed to resolve the issue on applying the measures of state protection to the applicant, as well as failed to conduct an incident site examination with his participation, despite the fact that Maksim insisted that he was ready to show the location where he was kept, as well as the traces of his stay there. Seeing that the investigation is not progressing, the state protection is not provided, and the threat is aggravating each day, the applicant was forced to leave the North Caucasus Federal District and then Russia, too.
Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, representing Maksim Lapunov’s interests, from the very start of the check started to point out numerous procedural violations by the investigative authorities. For example, Lapunov’s representatives were not allowed to participate in checking activities together with the applicant, although the latter insisted on lawyers’ participation. Necessary checking activities, which Lapunov insisted on, were not performed, in addition, the investigators time after time violated the timeline of motions’ examination. On each of these violations human rights defenders applied complaints to the Essentuki City Court under Article 125 of the Criminal Procedural Code, and part of these violations was acknowledged by the court.
On 21 March 2018, investigator on major cases of the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the North Caucasian Federal District Vitaliy Polivanov issued a refusal to initiate criminal proceedings based on Maksim Lapunov’s torture complaint. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture appealed against this investigator’s ruling in court.
On 22 August of this year, judge of the Essentuksky City Court Karen Pogosyan dismissed the human rights defenders’ complaint, pointing out that the “refusal” of the investigator is legal and grounded. The court’s ruling was appealed at the appeals instance.
Today, judge of the Stavropolsky Territorial Court Vyacheslav Soloviev dismissed this complaint – the ruling which refuses the initiating of criminal proceedings remained in force, which means that Russian investigative bodies will not investigate Maksim Lapunov’s application about tortures in the Grozny police.
“We strongly disagree with the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings. The investigation gathered six volumes of materials of the check, however, with this pile of formal documents it overlooked really important steps which might have shed some light on this case, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vladimir Smirnov comments. – All our numerous claims to investigators, which conducted the check based on Maksim Lapunov application, were voiced today at court. However, our arguments were not taken into account by the Russian courts, due to that we will have to submit a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights”.