The European Court communicated the complaint of the Yoshkar-Ola citizen about police torture

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03 July 2014

As it has been known today, the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) have communicated the complaint applied by the lawyers with the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» on behalf of Yoshkar-Ola citizen Andrey Ivanov who applied to the human rights defenders seeking for help.

(Source: © AFP/ Olivier Morin)

In his application to the Committee Against Torture Andrey Ivanov reported that on July 15, 2005 he and his friend were getting home from a walk in Yoshkar-Ola at about 1 a.m. Not far from the central market a police car drove near the two friends. The policemen who came out told them that a robbery had happened near the «Sanchast» (Medical Branch) stop. And since the two young men were the only ones who were walking about in the area and resembled the criminals a lot, they should go to the Central Police Department for identification check. The two men did not argue, they decided that in the Central Police Department it would soon be sorted out. So they stepped into a police car without any resistance or enforcement.

According to Andrey’s words, upon their arrival to the Police Department they were taken to the cell for administratively detained. At about 5 a.m. an investigator came, who took them to the third floor of the Department. Ivanov was taken to room No.307 and his friend was left in the corridor. In the room the investigator started to question him on what crimes did he committed during the night. Ivanov told him that he did not commit anything, and all his crime was that he happened at the wrong place at the wrong time. The police officer did not believe his words. He came up to Ivanov and having knocked him down from the chair on the floor by a professional blow started kicking. Then the police officer took a truncheon from his table and hit Ivanov on the head three times. Ivanov passed out as a result of these blows.
 
When Ivanov regained his conscience he was laying on the floor. There was one more police officer in the room, who did not take part in the beating and said that it was necessary to call the ambulance since Ivanov’s head was bleeding. The doctors who came about provided medical assistance at the scene. After they were gone the beating stopped. Andrey was taken to another room where we remained until about 11 a.m. After that he was taken to the investigator’s room where the identification check was performed, in the course of which the victims did not identify Ivanov as a person who committed crime against them.

After the identification check the investigator, apparently feeling pity for the beaten Andrey, asked her colleague to take him to the first-aid station. After receiving the necessary medical assistance Andrey lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office asking to initiate criminal proceedings against the police officer.

Despite all the efforts of human rights defenders, repeated appeals of investigators’ unlawful acts no criminal proceedings were initiated in relation to this case. The official investigation explained the injuries saying that Ivanov, innocent of anything, was allegedly trying to jump out of the window, but broke his head against the safe box.

A detail of no little interest is that in the course of the social inquiry the human rights defenders managed to learn the name of the police officer whom Ivanov identified as his offender – it turned out to be a operative criminal investigator Pchelnikov. This police officer later on was convicted in 2007 in relation to a similar case for beating of two young men in the same ill-fated police department. He was sentenced to 3.5-year prison term then.

After having failed to restore the violated rights of Andrey Ivanov at the national level the lawyers working with the Committee Against Torture lodged his complaint on his behalf with the European Court of Human Rights in 2008. After 6 years his complaint was communicated. This has been the fifth torture complaint from the Republic of Mari El citizens which was communicated by the Strasbourg Court and where the legal support of the claimants is rendered by the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture.

In relation to Ivanov’s complaint the European judges posed a number of questions to Russian authorities, in particular, whether the claimant was subjected to torture in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention, whether the investigation, conducted in relation to his complaint, effective, and whether the detaining of Ivanov complied with the warranty provided by Article 5 of the Convention.

According to Andrey Ivanov representative in the ECHR, the lawyer with Committee Against Torture Anton Ryzhov, it is exactly a year before the expiry of the limitation period for prosecution of the guilty party in this case. «I think it would be rather tough for our investigative authorities to find the evidence and conduct adequate investigation of this case after 9 years, – Ryzhov pointed out. – Still I hope that it will be done and we won’t receive another decision of the ECHR, once again branding Russia not only as a country where torture exists (it exists in other countries as well), but also as a country where the authorities are simply not capable of effectively investigating torture cases and bringing the guilty party to trial».