Yesterday, on 23 December 2014, on the fourth try the Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod started the examination of the criminal case on its merits concerning six officers of the Criminal Investigation Office who were accused of several episodes of exceeding of authority and an episode of illegal entry which happened in 2012. The prosecutor read out the indictment, further procedure of the case examination was determined.
As we have previously reported, on 27 March 2012 Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov applied to Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Committee Against Torture and informed that the police officers of police center No.1 of the Department of Interior for Nizhny Novgorod illegally used force against them.
It took two and a half years for the investigators of the Investigative Committee to bring this case to court.
«Such an extended official investigation is explained by a number of difficulties which the investigators had to face, – emphasized the lawyer of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» Aleksey Matasov who represents the interests of the victims. – This relates to the whole group of the accused, involved in different episodes, and a large number of the witnesses and the aggressive actions of the regional Chief Directorate of Interior which resulted in suspension of one of the investigators from the case. Despite all this, the investigators of the first department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Nizhny Novgorod region have completed the preliminary investigation, having collected a substantial body of evidence. The indictment is over 1400 sheets».
From the very start of the investigation the accused performed active actions for their defense and were applying pressure on the progress of the investigation, different information and administrative capabilities were implemented for this purpose.
For example, the accused succeeded in suspension of the investigator Evgeny Khrokalo from the case, the one who initiated it. However, after that the materials were submitted to the regional department of the Investigative Committee, an investigative group comprising of three investigators was formed. Its Head Yury Yelantsev managed to withhold the pressure of the masters of Avtozavodsky police officers and the case was brought to the court.
In the preparatory part of the yesterday’s hearing the defendants asked to reschedule the hearing due to absence of some of the complainants (there are five of them in the case: two – in the torture episode, and three – in the episode of illegal entry). The judge dismissed this notion, reminding to the participants of the hearing that taking part in the court hearing is a right of the complainant, not an obligation.
Then the prosecutor was reading out the indictment for two hours. None of the defendants pleaded guilty to the crime and all of them objected to the presented charges. For example, defendant Ivan Vechkanov added that he was not of a very high opinion of the indictment since it didn’t distribute roles among the defendants. He pointed out that Gasanov had bodily injuries only in the loins area, and several policemen at once were being incriminated in the episode of his battery. In his turn defendant Sergey Nikolayev called the presented charges «unsubstantiated».
In the end of the court hearing the parties agreed on the procedure of the evidence examination. The next hearing is scheduled for 20 January 2015 at 9 hours 30 minutes.
«Some challenging job is ahead of us, since there a quite a lot of materials in the case, as well the participants of the hearings. I think the court hearing will last throughout 2015. We’ll do our best to prove the guilt of the police officers in court and we hope that there will be no violations during the hearing and the court will pronounce a just verdict», – commented head of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» Nizhny Novgorod branch investigations department Dmitry Utukin, who represents the interests of the complainants.