The guilty verdict of former police officers from the Nizhny Novgorod region has taken effect


09 November 2015


Today, on 9 November 2015, the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court panel of judges has amended the guilty verdict pronounced on 18 August of this year regarding two former investigative officers of the Department of Interior of Russia for Balakhninsky District Artem Choumakov and Roman Lapshinov, reducing the term for serving punishment by four and two months for each, accordingly. As the result Choumakov was sentenced to three years and two months prison term, Lapshinov – to two years and ten months prison term. The verdict has taken effect. Now lawyers of INGO «The Committee for Prevention of Torture», representing the interests of victim Laziz Niyazov in this case, are going to  submit a moral damages compensation claim on behalf of the victim.

As we have previously reported, in May of this year Laziz Niyazov from Nizhny Novgorod applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. According to the applicant, late in the evening of 21 May this year four police officers demanded to go with them to the police department, but instead of this they took him to the forest and beat him up. Notably, in a few days one of the visitors came to Laziz again. This time he wanted to apologize.

Laziz Niyazov lives in Bolshoye Kozino settlement in the Nizhny Novgorod region with his wife, elderly mother and two kids. In his application to the human rights organization Niyazov reported that late at night on 21 May 2015 four men came up to his house, in one of them the applicant recognized a district police officer. They demanded that Niyazov went with them to the police department.

According to Laziz, instead of that thee unbidden guests took him to the forest near his house, where they beat him up demanding that he confessed of theft and provided false witness against his colleagues. As Niyazov recollects, threats continued in the police dispatch center of the Department of the Interior of Russia for Balakhninsky district, where he was taken after execution in the forest, however, he had not confessed. After midnight Niyazov was released, he applied to the first-aid station right away, where he was diagnosed with cerebral concussion, and a lot of bruises all over his body were registered.

On 25 May Laziz Niyazov applied to the Committee Against Torture. In the course of public investigation human rights defenders questioned witnesses, conducted additional medical examination of the applicant, submitted a crime report to the Investigative Committee, filed a number of motions on including the data obtained in the course of public investigation to the materials of the official check, for example, medical documentation, as well as video and audio records related to pressure which Niyazov was subjected to.

One of the police officers, whom Laziz identified as one of his offenders, came to the applicant’s house on 2 June this year and apologized for «that case», saying that Laziz was «framed». This meeting was recorded with a video surveillance camera that was installed by the Committee Against Torture members in order to provide the applicant’s safety. The content of the conversation was also recorded by Niyazov on his dictaphone recorder.

On 18 June 2015 it has become known about a criminal case initiated based on the fact of violence by the officers of the Department of the Interior for the Balakhninsky District used against Laziz Niyazov from Bolshoye Kozino settlement, who is declared the affected party in the criminal case. On 26 June the human rights defenders who are taking part in the court proceedings in the capacity of Mr.Niyaziov’s representatives, received copies of confessions of two police officers in which they confessed of unlawful violence that they used against Laziz and of abuse of office.
As we have previously reported, the defendants were dismissed from service as early as on 18 June based on the results of the agency check. The criminal case was examined in the Balakhninsky City Court per special procedure, since both of the defendants submitted the appropriate requests and victim Laziz Niyazov was not against it.

(Photo: former police officers Artem Chumakov and Roman Lapshinov in the Balakhninsky City Court)

After the guilty verdict has been pronounced the convicted and their defense team appealed against it, considering the punishment to be too severe. Today the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court panel of judges, having reviewed the appellate complaints, has amended the first instance court verdict and reduced the term for serving punishment considering the convicts’ clean record to be a mitigating circumstance.

Lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Sergey Shonin, who represented the interests of Laziz Niyazov in the course of today’s court hearing: «We are satisfied with the court decision, because it in fact upheld the first instance court ruling. The interesting thing about today’s court ruling is that despite a rather serious mistake of the court of the first instance which in essence twice imposed the defendants with the presence of criminal intent as aggravating circumstance (this fact was used by the Prosecutor in substantiation of his position), the penal of judges did not sentence conditional punishment, which the defense team was pressing for. I think that the behavior of the defendants in the court room who failed to utter a single word of apology to the victim in their final word contributed to such a verdict».

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