The European Court of Human Rights posed questions concerning the application of Murad Ragimov and Firuddin Ragimov, who accuse law-enforcement officers of brutal tortures and planting drugs. Now the Russian Federation will have to explain its stance concerning the arguments on tortures of both citizens and inefficient investigation of this incident, as well as on violation of the right to fair trial, freedom and personal integrity of Murad.
As we have previously reported, Gyunay Ragimova from Moscow applied to human rights defenders for legal assistance in September 2016. According to her, on August 30, 2016 the officers of Moscow Special Rapid Response Detachment (SOBR) beat up her brother, 22-year old Murad Ragimov and their 59-year old father right in their Moscow apartment (subsequently, they also applied to the Committee Against Torture).
Members of the Ragimov family said that early in the morning their apartment was stormed by no less than twenty SOBR officers in masks and bulletproof jackets, one of them immediately hit Murad in the face. Later on, it turned out that these unbidden guests included several police officers from the Counter-Extremism Center.
According to witnesses, Murad was beaten up for over three hours: the police officers handcuffed him, hit and kicked him, applied electric shocker, broke the kitchen table, tore off one of its legs and beat up Murad with it, broke a cutglass sweets box against his head.
According to Murad’s relatives, the police officers chocked him several times with a plastic bag, and when he lost his consciousness they were bringing him to his senses by pouring water on him and sending electric shockers’ charges. The police officers forced him to confess of keeping of weapons, then – of possession of drugs, then – of murder, and when Murad answered that did not have anything to do with it, they resumed tortures.
“Murad asked to perform a polygraph examination, to prove that he was telling the truth, but the officers told him, “Here’s your polygraph”, pointing at the electric shocker. When my brother was losing consciousness, they poured water on him”, – Gunay Ragimova recalls.
According to the witnesses of the incident, it all ended only when one of the police officers planted drugs in the pocket of Murad’s trousers and in his bag right before their eyes, and when Murad refused to sign the protocol of this search, one of the SOBR officers forced a knife in his leg.
Members of the Ragimov family also claim that during this time Murad Firruddin’s father was being tortured in the next room: he was beaten up with hands and electric shockers.
“The officers were acting in a very cynical way: for example, they took the ice-cream from our fridge and were eating it ostentatiously while their colleagues kept beating up my son; they insulted our family as a whole and each family member separately all the time, – Firuddin describes.
When Murad lost consciousness for the second time due to the fact that a plastic bag was put on his head, I made a dart towards him, but the officer who was beating me up, put a machine-gun barrel at my forehead and told me: “If you move around I’ll send all the bullets through your head”.
Unlike Murad, Firuddin was not charged with anything later on. At the same time, Murad was charged with possession of drugs which were found in his bag and in the pocket of his trousers.
On 18 January 2018 the Tushinsky District Court of Moscow declared Murad Ragimov to be guilty of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“illegal possession of narcotic substances on a large scale”) and sentenced him to three years and six months of imprisonment of the standard security penal colony.
Subsequently, the appellate instance upheld the verdict. Murad served the whole period of sentence in the penal colony, the request for release on parole was rejected. In February 2020, he was released.
For the fourth year now, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture are trying to insist that the Investigative Committee performs a conscientious investigation of the Ragimov’s complaint of tortures and violations committed during the search. The investigators issued eighteen refusals to initiate criminal proceedings and seventeen of these refusals were subsequently declared illegal and quashed.
Due to obvious reluctance of the investigative authorities to investigate this incident, on 15 November 2018, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application on behalf of Murad Ragimov and Firuddin Ragimov to the European Court of Human Rights.
Today, the ECHR notified human rights defenders that this application is communicated.
The European Court posed the following questions to the Russian authorities:
– were the applicants subjected to tortures or degrading or humiliating treatment,
– have the authorities provided a plausible and convincing explanation of how the applicants got the bodily injuries, – was applying physical fore strictly necessary,
– was the apprehension planned beforehand,
– have the authorities conducted an efficient investigation of torture complaints,
– was the apprehension of Murad and putting him in custody lawful,
– was the court examination with regard to Murad fair, taking into account his claim that the verdict was passed based on forged evidence,
– was the presumption of Murad’s innocence observed, taking into account that before passing the verdict, the judge indicated in one of his rulings that the applicant “is in custody because he committed a crime under item 2 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code”.
“We hope very much that at last the Russian investigative bodies will be more active and open a criminal case on tortures, though it should have been done long time ago, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Anastasia Garina comments. – Not every torture complaint is supported by so many pieces of evidence proving the guilt of the law, as in this case. In my opinion, there is no doubt that brutal and absolutely meaningless tortures took place. However, the investigative authorities for some reason stubbornly have been ignoring all the evidence for the fourth year, and year after year reproduces the same conclusion, that, allegedly, the applicants’ theory is an attempt of the relatives to protect Murad from fair criminal prosecution. What they need to protect him from now, when he already served a full sentence after this “fair prosecution”? Subsequently, every ruling of the investigator, based on this conclusion, is certainly quashed, and everything starts again. I hope that communication of the complaint will help us to break this vicious circle”.