Since Russian Themis again refused to do this without being “spurred” by Europe, specialists of the Committee against Torture had to file an application with Strasbourg in connection with tortures used against a minor.
Last Friday, on April 25, 2008, the Sovietsky district court of Nizhny Novgorod dismissed the claim for compensation of moral damages suffered by Ms. Tamara Shestopalova, mother of Anton Shestopalov, who accuses local police officers of torturing him with the purpose to get a confession from him. The youth’s mother demanded compensation of moral damages incurred by unlawful action and inaction of the Sovietskiy district Prosecutor’s office staff.
Her son was battered by the police some 4 years ago, on May 24, 2004. The Sovietsky district Department of Internal affairs staff tortured underage Anton in order to make him confess to a grave crime.
Ms. Tamara Shestopalova, acting as a legal representative of her underage son, filed an application about the crime committed against her son to the Prosecutor’s office on May 28, 2004.
A criminal case under the above mentioned application was instigated only on February 20, 2006, that is a year and 9 months later. During that period the Sovietskiy district Prosecutor’s office issued six refusals to start a criminal case, each of those refusals was found unlawful by higher-standing judicial officials and cancelled. When the criminal case was finally initiated, Anton could not identify the people who had battered him because the crime had happened long time before. And finally the criminal case was suspended because the perpetrators could not be found.
At the same time, in July 2004 Ms. Shestopalova applied to the Committee against Torture. The Committee conducted a public investigation upon her application and established the fact of Anton’s tortures. Besides, unlawful actions – or rather inaction – of the Prosecutor’s office resulted in moral damage for Ms. Shestopalova who could not protect the rights of her minor child due to the fault of those officials.
Trying to solve the problem on the national level and to avoid applying to Strasbourg – because another decision like this would surely be harmful for the image of our country in the eyes of the European community-, the Shestopalovs turned to the Sovietskiy district court claiming compensation of moral damage.
The Shestopalovs’ interests in court were represented by lawyers from the Committee against Torture. Specialists of the Committee hoped they would succeed to restore the victim’s rights at least partially in form of compensation award, this would prevent the case from getting to the European Court where the defendant would already be the Russian Federation. However, in course of trial the Prosecutor’s office representative asked the court to dismiss the Shestopalovs’ claim. The district court did not agree with the human rights defendants’ reasoning and supported the Prosecutor’s office by dismissing the claim. The Committee against Torture was forced to prepare and file an application with the European Court claiming violation of articles 3 and 13 by the Russian Federation.