Today, on 21 April 2020, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with a complaint in the interests of Denis Karimov from Karachayevo-Cherkesiya – he claims that he was beaten up and tortured with electricity at the Gelendzhik police department in 2017, when the police officers forced him to confess of committing an assault related to robbery. During the check, the investigators of the Investigative Committee issued six refusals to initiate criminal proceedings.
In July 2017, Denis Karimov from Karachayevo-Cherkesiya applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. According to him, on 1 May 2017, he was tortured at the Gelendzhik police department, when forced to confess of an assault related to robbery.
According to Karimov, after he refused to confess, the police officers brought him down on the floor and put a chair on him. Shoes were taken off the left foot of Karimov and a connected a wire to his leg, fixing it with belt to the chair back.
“One of the police officers hit my head against the floor so that I don’t look in their direction. Connecting the wire or a string to the left foot, they sent an electric charge. At first it was not very powerful. Later on, when I answered to all the officers’ questions that I did not know anything, some of them said: “Let it go full swing” – and I heard a lot more clicks, – Denis remembers. The current intensity noticeably increased. It was very painful, the body muscles contracted, there was a feeling they were ready to burst. At the same time, my untied leg was shaking violently. The police officer kicked me in the groin so that I stopped shaking, but I still could not help shaking my leg when they send another charge. Having yielded to torture, I agreed to write and sign everything they wanted from me”.
On 5 May 2017, Denis Karimov’s lawyers applied to the Investigative Committee with a complaint about the police torture. The report contained a detail account of the bodily injures that we registered on Karimov: “On the wrist of the right hand on the right there are two bruises about 1.5 cm length each; on the wrist on the left hand on the right there is a bruise about 2 cm in length; in the lower part of the left lower leg on the left there are bruises and, presumably, burns; in the lower part of the right lower leg on the right there is a bruise about 12 cm in length; in the lower part of the low back (vertebral section) there is a bruise about 3 cm in length. The injuries were surrounded by the brown crust. Complain of headache, bumps on the head under the hair, numb feeling in the feet and left hand wrist”.
However, only three months later, and only after complaints of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, medical forensic examination was performed to register bodily injuries of Denis Karimov. According to the expert examination dated 10 August, Karimov was registered with: “Pigmented areas of skin in the area of both wrists, scar on the internal surface of the lower leg in the lower third section”. The expert failed to register other bodily injuries due to time limitation.
Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture succeeded in ensuring that officer of the investigative department for Gelendzhik of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Krasnodar Territory German Gordeyev, who assigned the expert examination very late, was deprived of bonus, and new investigator Dmitry Sankov was assigned for checking the Karimov’s torture complaint.
However, both he and the next investigator Ilya Savelyev, who worked on this complaint, failed to effectively check it. For example, a lot of witnesses were not questioned: the cell mates of Karimov, the police officers, who apprehended him, the investigator who was in charge of the Karimov’s case. Only four months later the investigators made a request to seize the crucial evidence – records from the surveillance cameras of the police department. The investigators received an anticipated answer that the records were erased long time ago.
In total, during the pre-investigative check the investigators issued seven refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, six of which were subsequently declared illegal. Human rights defenders appealed against the last refusal at court, however, the court declared it to be legal.
As to the criminal case with regard to Denis Karimov, in August 2018 he was declared guilty of assault related to robbery and sentenced to 7 years of prison term.
Due to the fact that Denis Karimov’s complaint was not effectively checked at the national level, today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied on his behalf to the European Court of Human Rights. In the opinion of human rights defenders, the Russian authorities violated the provisions of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, securing the freedom from tortures and the right to effective investigation.
“We think that the facts collected in the course of our public investigation, show that Denis Karimov was subjected to torture at the police department and that the Russian authorities did not conduct an effective check of his application, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Mariya Zadorozhnaya comments. – In fact, the investigators, by issuing refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, were based only on the evidence provided by the police officers and people who did not have any direct involvement in the case, whatsoever. In addition, the investigators made a conclusion that Karimov did not have traces of electrical injury on his body, although such issued were never raised in the framework of the medical forensic examination. We hope that the European Court of Human Rights will give the legal evaluation of all the circumstances of the incident and will pass a fair verdict”.