The Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case on tortures, for which the period of limitations has expired already


07 August 2020

The Investigative Committee initiated criminal proceedings with regard to the fact of torture of six residents of Orenburg at the police department in 2010. The criminal case is opened ten years after the event, when the period of limitation for bringing to criminal responsibility for such category of cases has already expired.

As we have previously reported, on 28 May 2010, Yury Zontov and five friends of his were apprehended on suspicion of committal a series of thefts and were taken to the police department No.1 of the Department of the Ministry of the Interior for the Orenburg region. As each of the apprehended reported, the police officers were beating them, in order to make them confess of crimes. Having yielded to tortures, all of them signed full confession.

Despite the confessions available in the criminal case, the criminal prosecution of all six apprehended residents of Orenburg was later dismissed due to their non-involvement in the series of thefts.

After staying in custody at the police department, the following bodily injuries were registered on Yury Zontov: “Hematoma of the chest tissues of the chest from the right, which may have developed due to traumatic impact of a blunt solid object”.

All Zontov’s acquaintances were also registered with bodily injuries: hematomas, extravasations, bruises, craniocerebral injuries, brain concussions. One of the men was diagnosed with a closed nose fracture. One of the women, apart from hematomas and bruises on the body, was registered by experts with “a section of the skin without hair in the hairy part of the head”. In the opinion of medical forensic experts, the bodily injuries of all the battered people could have developed in the time corresponding to the circumstances of the case.

The victims applied to the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of Russia for Orenburg with regard to the fact of tortures. On 22 November 2010, investigator of this department Nadezhda Vorobeykina issued a ruling refusing to open a criminal case.

 Only nine and a half years after the application by the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Leninsky District of Orenburg quashed this ruling as premature and groundless.

After the check was resumed, investigator with the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Southern Administrative District of Orenburg Arman Izbasov for more than half a year refused to initiate a criminal case, having issued three refusals.

As a result, on 28 July 2020, investigator Arman Izbasov initiated criminal proceedings under items “a”, “b” Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“abuse of office with the use of violence, weapons or special equipment”). Today, human rights defenders received a copy of this ruling.

“Yury Zontov told that in 2011 he was beaten up by the same police officers who had beaten him and his friends a year before. However, the investigator, investigating the battery of 2011, avoided checking the data which had been communicated to him, and issued the ruling dismissing the criminal case, which we are now appealing against in court, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rakhmatulin comments. Now we intend to have this two criminal cases joined into one. Unfortunately, the period of limitations for bringing the guilty ones to criminal responsibility with regard to the 2010 battery has expired, however, in any case, we shall be insisting that the investigative body performs effective investigation of the circumstances under which the bodily injuries were inflicted to Zontov, both in 2010 and 2011, the police officers are established and identified and the case is submitted to court”.

As we have previously reported, on 2 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling with regard to the complaint submitted in 2014 on behalf of Yury Zontov. The Strasbourg judges unanimously established violations of Article 3 of the Convention in negative and procedural aspects: the applicant was subjected to torture in 2011, and no effective investigation of this fact was performed. With regard to this a compensation of moral damage in the amount of 45 000 euro was awarded to the applicant.

On 10 October 2019, due to unsatisfactory investigation of Yury Zontov’s torture case, human rights defenders submitted an application to the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe with a request to pose questions to the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia regarding the execution of the ruling of the European Court concerning Zontov’s application. The representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia will have to describe what has been done by the Russian Federation already and what does it intend to do in order to fully restore Zontov’s violated rights and to fully execute the ECHR ruling passed in 2017.

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