The European Court of Human Rights has communicated the complaint of Ludmila and Viktor Saveykin from Bashkortostan about the death of their son who by chance happened to be in the area of special operation conducted by the officers of the Department of the Federal Drug Control Service for the Republic of Bashkortostan. Apart from the issue of violating the right to life which is guaranteed by Article 2 of European Convention, the Strasbourg judges also put questions to the Russian Federation on whether the efficient investigation of this accident was conducted at the national level.
(Photo: Anton Saveykin, damaged car VAZ-2108)
As we have previously reported, on 22 September 2008 the parents of Anton Saveykin, who was shot by the Drug Control officers during the special operation, applied to the INGO «The Committee against Torture» for legal assistance.
After the human rights defenders conducted public investigation it was revealed that on 11 September 2008 officers of the Special Department of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service for Bashkortostan were conducting a special operation in Oktyabrsky to detain Mr. Peretyagin suspected of possession of drugs. At about 23.30 the special forces attempted to detain him at a parking lot near «Matrix» shop. However, the special operation went off course and Mr. Peretyagin abandoned his car and attempted to flee. At this moment Mr. Saveykin was seeing his brother at the parking lot. Since it was dark, the special forces officers decided that the law-breaker got into the car of Mr. Saveykin, after that they started to break the car’s windows. Failing to realize what was happening and what people attacked them, Anton tried to get away, but the special forces fired for effect. Subsequently the ballistic examination established that 15 bullets hit VAZ-2108 car, two of these bullets hit Anton Saveykin. Later he died because of the wounds. By the way, in the course of promiscuous firing in a busy street two bullets also hit a passenger bus and a taxi, and it’s a happy coincidence that there are no more victims.
Having conducted a public investigation the human rights defenders have concluded that the drug control officers have breached article 2 (Right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with regards to Anton Saveykin.
Initially the senior investigator of Oktyabrsky Interregional Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Republic of Bashkortostan Mr.Fedoseyev three times illegally refused to initiate criminal proceedings. Lawyers of the Bashkortostan branch of the Committee Against Torture kept appealing against these decisions and petitioned for holding the investigator liable.
As a result of human rights defenders actions Mr.Fedoseyev was subjected to disciplinary liability, and on 2 December 2008, at last, a criminal case under part 2 of article 109 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was opened (reckless homicide due to negligent performance of official duties).
Due to high public significance of this case the pre-trial investigation was entrusted to the senior investigator for particularly important cases of the Investigative Department of Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Bashkortostan Mr.Sultanov. However, the human rights defenders questioned the quality of this investigation, too: the investigator conducted the investigative actions only after the applicants’ representatives filed numerous notions, some of the witnesses were never questioned, and as a result a lot of circumstances were not checked and established.
As a result, upon the expiry of eight months, on 2 August 2009, the criminal case was closed due to absence of elements of crime. The investigative authorities supported the version of the Drug Control officers who stated that weapon was employed justifiably since Saveykin did not comply with a lawful demand to stop his vehicle and created a real hazard for human life or health, running-over one of the special forces officers.
Human rights defenders applied against this decision of the investigative authority, it was deemed illegal by the Leninsky District Court of Ufa, and on 22 November 2010 the pre-trial investigation on the criminal case was reopened. However, in a month, on 29 December, the case was closed again on grounds similar to previous episodes. Human rights defenders appealed against this decision as well, however, the District Court found it legal. The court of cassation was of the same opinion.
Having exhausted all the possibilities to restore the applicants’ rights on the national level human rights defenders filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.
Saveykin parents representative in ECHR, lawyer of the Committee Against Torture Anton Ryzhov comments: «First and foremost the Strasbourg judges are interested whether the special operation was planned and conducted in a manner minimizing the probability of weapon employment and avoiding casualties. In this case poor planning and coordination of Drug Control officers is obvious. The suspect was followed for a long time before the accident and there was even an attempt to detain him, that failed. The majority of the officers who took part in the special operation did not have a clue how the suspect looked like. The operation itself was performed in darkness hours, in a crowded place, at a parking lot near the shop. The bullets also hit a passenger bus, it is a happy coincidence that there are no more victims».
In the nearest future the Russian Federation shall send its comments on the case to the Strasbourg Court.