The European Court established the fact of tortures in the Orenburg penal colony in 2012


15 June 2021

Pavel Seliverstov

Today, on 15 June 2021, the European Court of Human Rights awarded a compensation in the amount of thirteen thousand euro with regard to a complaint submitted by human rights defenders on behalf of Pavel Seliverstov from Orenburg, who reported a brutal battery in Penal Colony No.4 of Orenburg in 2012. According to Pavel, during the battery his rib was broken, and it punched through the lung. The resident of Orenburg failed to achieve justice at the national level, and worse, he himself was convicted for allegedly false denunciation with regard to the penal colony officers. Unfortunately, Pavel did not live to see the ruling of the European Court, so it’s his relatives who will receive the compensation.

As we have previously reported, on 24 December 2012 mother of the defendant Pavel Seliverstov Valentina Mikhailovna applied to Orenburg office of the Committee Against Torture. She told that prior to being put to the punitive confinement in penal colony No.4 of Orenburg her son was brutally beaten up. Because of this battery his rib was broken, which punched through Pavel’s lung and nearly got him killed. On the same day, Valentina Mikhailovna applied to investigative authorities with a crime report. In the beginning of January when Pavel recovered from surgery a little, he also lodged a similar complaint. However, for some reason the investigative authorities were not in a hurry to start working: for example, the crime report check was started two weeks later, and not immediately, as the law requires it.

But even having initiated the criminal case only two months after the incident, the Investigative Committee officers continued to systematically violate the rights of the defendant, due the lawyers of the international legal protection of the Committee Against Torture lodged a complaint to the European Court of the Human Rights.

As a result, over two years four investigators changed in this criminal case, which was dismissed twice. First time, due to human rights defenders and high interest of the public, this decision was deemed illegal and the case was transferred to the first department for major crimes of the Investigative Department under the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Orenburg region. However, the second similar procedural decision passed on 10 November 2014, was declared legal by the courts of the first and the appellate instances.

“We think that the investigative authorities did not take into account a lot of factors important for establishing the truth. For example, the investigators did not seize the records of video surveillance cameras which should register either Pavel’s falling from the stairs or his battery by the Federal Penitentiary officers, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin describes. – Nor did they seize a video from the video record from the video camera which is attached to the ammunition of the Punishment Isolation Cell duty officer who was present on the day when Pavel got his bodily injuries and, according to Pavel, who was observing his battery. No other investigative activities have been performed and no numerous controversies have not been cleared”.

As a result, after the criminal case against the Federal Penitentiary Service officers was dismissed, Pavel Seliverstov was charged with Article 306 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“false denunciation”). Although the period of limitations for bringing to criminal responsibility under this article expired by the moment of the case examination in court, Pavel ensured that the case examination continued, hoping to prove that he did not perform a false denunciation. On 13 March 2015, the court passed a judgement of conviction, sentencing Pavel to one year of prison term and releasing him from serving a sentence due to expiry of the period of limitations for bringing to responsibility. 

A year later, on 16 March 2016, Pavel Seliverstov died. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture continue to represent the interests of his sister at the European Court of Human Rights.

Today, the Strasbourg judges passed a ruling, in which they acknowledged that Pavel Seliverstov was subjected to torture by the penal colony officers and that no effective investigation was carried out with this regard in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention (“prohibition of torture”).

“Alas, Pavel Seliverstov did not live to see the ruling of the European Court, however, we and Pavel’s relatives are satisfied that this ruling was in his favor”, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin comments.

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