The ECHR awarded a compensation to two citizens of Mari El Republic for police torture


16 March 2021

Today, on 16 March 2021, the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling with regard to applications of Dmitry Efremov and Ansar Vagapov from the Mari El Republic. The ECHR established that they were subjected to police torture over ten years ago and that no effective investigation was carried out with this regard. 15 000 Euro was awarded as a compensation to each of the applicant. The law-enforcement officers guilty of torture will no longer bear any punishment due to expiry of the period of limitations.

Here is the background of this story.

On 10 January 2008, Dmitry Efremov applied to the branch of INGO “The Committee Against Torture” in the Republic of Mari El for legal assistance. He informed human rights defenders that on 2 January 2008 approximately at 11 p.m. was returning from his sister. They asked him to show his ID, which he did not have on him at the time. The argument developed in a battery — the police officers kicked him down on the ground with a professional blow and started to beat him up with hands, feet and rubber truncheons. Later on, the police UAZ vehicle arrived on site, four officers came out, put Efremov in the car and delivered him to the Zarechny Police Department for Yoshkar-Ola city.

According to Dmitry, at the police department he was brought in the room and told to write an explanation. Efremov refused. He was brought for medical examination, which showed minor level of alcoholic intoxication. Later on, he was taken to the same police department and he was released home only after that.

However, Dmitry together with his relative went directly to the first-aid station, where doctors registered numerous injuries on him. The medical forensic examination report mentions bruises on his face, hands, feet and left buttock, as well as rupture of the lower lip mucous membrane. The mentioned injuries developed due to traumatic impact of no less than nine blunt objects and could not be caused by falling from one’s own height.

Having exhausted all domestic remedies for restoring Dmitry Efremov’s rights and having passed all the judicial instances at the national level, lawyers of the Committee Against Torture, representing his interests, submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights on 2 April 2013.

The second story of our applicant is in a way similar both in terms of the depicted circumstances of receiving injuries and in terms of subsequent futile aspiration to see the justice prevail in one’s own state.

Ansar Vagapov applied to human rights defenders for legal assistance on 1 November 2008, having reported that in the night from 8 to 9 June 2007 he was taken to the Krasnogorsky Police Department of the Republic of Mari El over a family quarrel with his common law wife.

According to Ansar, at the police department, police officers hit him several times with hands and feet at various parts of his body without providing any explanations. In the morning of 9 June, the man was released home, however, he decided to apply straight to hospital. The medics registered him with a following injuries: “Bruise of the lower jaw, hematoma of the lower lip, bruise (fracture) of the upper third of the left thigh, lacerated wound of the occipital lobe of the head, hematoma”.

Despite all the attempts of human rights defenders to ensure that the criminal case with regard to the police officers is opened, this has not been achieved in this case either. In total, the investigative authorities issued twenty-five dismissals of claims to open a criminal case with regard to Dmitry Efremov and Ansar Vagapov’s crime reports, which were subsequently appealed against by human rights defenders and were quashed as illegal ones: on 22 June 2010, the application on behalf of Ansar Vagapov was submitted to the ECHR.

Today, the European Court of Human Rights issued rulings with regard to these applications.

The Strasbourg judges established that the applicants were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention and that no effective investigation was carried out with this regard. Due to this, everyone was awarded a compensation for moral damage in the amount of 15 000 Euro.

“While establishing, whether the applicants were subjected to brutal treatment, the European Court was based, among other evidence, on the results of the psychological examinations that they provided, according to which, even many years after the brutal treatment at the police department, traces of posttraumatic stress disorder related to what they passed through, were observed”, – lawyer with the International Legal Department of the Committee Against Torture Mariya Zadorozhnaya comments.

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