The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) communicated two complaints filed by lawyers of INGO «Committee Against Torture» on behalf of two citizens of the Mari El Republic. The Strasbourg judges posed a number of questions to the Russian authorities on whether the applicants were beaten by the police officers in 2007 and 2008, as well as whether the investigation of these episodes was effective at the national level.
Let us remind you the background of these cases.
On 10 January 2008 Dmitry Yefremov applied to the representative office of INGO «Committee Against Torture» for legal assistance. According to Dmitry on 2 January 2008 approximately at 11 p.m. he was going home from his sister’s place when two policemen approached him and asked for his ID. Dmitry answered that he had no ID on him. In the course of the following row with law-enforcement officers Yefremov was badly beaten: with several professional blows he was stroke down and hit and kicked, also with police clubs. Some time later a police vehicle UAZ arrived at the scene of the incident, four policemen brought Yefremov to the police car and took him to Zarechny Police Department of the Department of Interior of Yoshkar-Ola city.
As Dmitry recalls in the police department he was taken to the office and asked to write the explanation. Yefremov refused. He was taken for a medical examination which revealed a light level of alcohol intoxication. After that he again was brought to Zarechny Police Department and only then we was released.
However Dmitry with his relative went directly to the first-aid station where doctors registered numerous injuries. Forensic medical examination stated the following injuries of Yefremov: bruises of the face, arms and legs, left buttock, lower lip mucous membrane rupture. The indicated injuries resulted from no less than nine traumatic impacts of blunt hard objects and cannot be caused by fall from the level of one’s own height.
Having exhausted all remedies available at the national level, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture on behalf of Dmitry Yefremov lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on 11 September 2013.
The second story of our applicant is similar both in the circumstances of receiving the injuries and in subsequent unavailing attempts to find justice in one’s native state.
Ansar Vagapov applied to human rights defenders for legal assistance on 1 Novermber 2008 having informed that on the night from 8 to 9 June of 2007 he was delivered to Krasnogorsky Police Department of Mari El Republic due to family argument with his common-law wife.
According to Ansar the police officers in the department kicked and hit him several times without any motivation of their actions, apparently, within the framework of «preventive work with the community». In the morning of the 9 June Ansar was released but decided to go to hospital at once. Doctors registered the following injuries: contusion of the lower jawbone, lower lip hematoma, contusion (fracture) of the upper third of the left thigh, lacerated wound of the occipital lobe, hematoma.
Despite all the attempts of the human rights defenders to get the criminal proceedings started against the police officers, it was to no avail in this case either. Totally for crime reports of Dmitry Yefremov and Ansar Vagapov the investigative authorities issued sixteen refusals to start criminal proceedings which were subsequently appealed against by human rights defenders and were quashed as unlawful. In the end of 2009 the complaint was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Ansar Vagapov.
The Strasbourg judges posed a number of questions to the Russian authorities in relation to the communicated complaints. In particular, they asked the authorities to provide a credible explanation on how the both claimants received their bodily injuries, registered by doctors.
«It is rather interesting that the Strasbourg court also posed to the Russian Federation questions about the circumstances of Vagapov and Yefremov coming across the law-enforcement officers, – explains one of the representatives of the victims, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Anton Ryzhov. – The judges reasonably think that informing the citizens who are taken to police departments about their rights as well as unrestricted access to lawyer and doctor play important part in their protection against the unlawful violence. In this case both our applicants, as a matter of fact, did not have any procedural status, which made them more vulnerable in the hands of the police officers. The ECHR asked a question about this, as well».