For the second time representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office quashed the ruling of the investigator of the Investigative Committee to dismiss the criminal case into abduction and tortures of Aram Gambaryan. As we have previously reported, Aram Gambaryan claims that on 21 March 2017 several armed masked men grabbed him out of his car right in the center of the city, shouting “FSB is working!”, after that they brought him to the forest, where they tortured him for six hours, forcing that confessed of an attempt of murder of a local entrepreneur. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of Gambaryan, intend to insist on transferring the case for further investigation to the federal level.
On 30 May 2017, Aram Gambaryan applied to the Krasnodar branch of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. He reported that on 21 March of this year at about 10 a.m. his car was blocked in the busy street by two other vehicles, out of which several armed masked men rushed out shouting “FSB is working!”, grabbed him out of his car, handcuffed him and put him in their mini-van.
– In the mini-van they put a knitted cap or a bag on my head and started to beat me up all over. In response to my questions on who are they and what they want these people answered that they were FSB and Moscow Criminal Police officers, – Aram remembered.
According to Mr Gambaryan, in about fifty minutes he was taken to the woods where the battery continued: “I was thrown on my back and they started to kick at all the parts of my body, specifically targeting the area of thighs and knees, as well as the right shoulder. They took my pants and underwear off me. A man sat on my chest and started to question me. He was very heavy and I had troubles to breath under his weight. Besides, they were continuously pouring water on my face, which made me gasp and gave trouble speaking”.
According to Aram, he was also beaten up by electric shocker in the genital area, armpits, under his jaw, he was threatened with murder – they even threw him in the pit and started to put soil over him; several times they brought the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger, after that they shot at his ear. According to his feeling, tortures lasted for about six hours – all this time the torturers demanded that he confessed of an attempt of murder of a local entrepreneur.
Aram explained to human rights defenders that after the tortures he was taken to the Investigative Committee, where he was forced to sign the record of interrogation with the “required” explanations, which he agreed to provide to his torturers in the woods.
According to Gambaryan, he spent the night at one of the Krasnodar police departments, and on the next day the Seversky District Court of the Krasnodar Territory declared him guilty of administrative crime – allegedly, on 22 March Aram was “in the public place in the presence of citizens and groundlessly used curse words and strong language”. He was imposed a punishment in the form of ten days of administrative arrest.
At first Aram was kept under administrative arrest first in the Temporary Detention Facility of the Department of the Ministry of the Interior of the Seversky District, and then he was moved to the detention room of the administratively arrested of the Ust-Labinsky District. During this time, emergency ambulance was called three times due to Gambaryan’s feeling unwell: according to him, during his arrest he practically did not eat, did not drink and was constantly vomiting and felt sharp pain in the stomach.
In the log of the medical examinations of the persons, kept in the Temporary Detention Facility of the of the Department of the Ministry of the Interior of the Seversky District there is a record in which it is indicated that on 25 March, after the emergency ambulance medics examined Gambaryan, they diagnosed him with: “closed craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, concussion of chest, lumbar region and the left thigh”.
On 1 April Aram’s father collected him from the detention room in Ust-Labinsk and brought him to Krasnodar. On the same day, Aram was taken to the Krasnodar Territory Hospital No.1 by the ambulance team in severe condition. During the admission, the doctors diagnosed him with: “acute renal insufficiency, acute interstitial (post-traumatic) nephritis, complicated by acute kidneys damage of 3 degree, mild brain concussion, multiple contusions, bruises of the body, massive hemorrhaging of lower limbs”. Aram was taken to intensive care unit for hemodialysis. On 7 April Aram was taken on the intensive care vehicle to one of the Moscow clinics for subsequent treatment. Aram returned from Moscow to Krasnodar after treatment only in December 2017.
Back in the morning of 22 March Gambaryan’s wife applied to the police and reported her husband’s missing. Afterwards this application was handed over to the Investigative Department on the Karasunsky District of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Krasnodar Territory.
Later on, the investigators of various departments of the Territorial Investigative Department initiated pre-investigation checks concerning other circumstances, as well: the fact of falsifying the materials of administrative offense, allegedly committed by Gambaryan, and the fact of illegal actions of the police officers during his apprehension.
For twelve months the investigators have eight times refused to initiate criminal proceedings based on Gambaryan’s torture complaint. For a long time the investigators have been giving preference to the version of the police officers, according to which in the morning of 21 March Aram was not abducted, but, as per order of the investigator of the Investigative Committee, was located and taken to him for questioning as a witness.
At the Investigative Department, for some reason, Gambaryan spent the whole day till evening, after that he was examined for bodily injuries (also for some strange reason) with participation of a forensic medical expert, no injuries were found. Then the investigator questioned Gambaryan in the capacity of a witness and let him go. In the morning of the next day Aram was walking in the street, violating the public order, and was apprehended by the police officers.
On 10 April 2018, human rights defenders succeeded in opening a criminal case based on the fact of abuse of office with regard to Aram Gambaryan. Investigator for major cases investigation who initiated this case, Vladimir Sorokin, established that Gambaryan was abducted in the street by unidentified law-enforcement officers and taken in an unknown direction in a Mercedes vehicle with registration number С 523 КН 69.
Later on, an investigative group was set up for investigation of this crime.
However, after five months after opening the criminal case, on 10 September 2018, head of this investigative group Artur Akopov dismissed it. Akopov came to the same conclusion as his predecessors, who previously refused to open a criminal case – Gambaryan was not abducted by anyone, he was just delivered for an interrogation to the police department as a witness.
This ruling was quashed by the Prosecutor’s Office and the case was returned to the Investigative Committee for additional investigation.
On 27 December 2018, the criminal case was dismissed again. And again the Prosecutor’s Office declared this ruling by investigator Akopov to be illegal. On 31 January 2019, the investigation was resumed the second time, Acting Deputy Head of the Investigative Department for the Karasunsky District of Krasnodar Igor Shemetov headed the investigative team.
“We are stongly dissatisfied with the quality of the investigation which is conducted by the local investigators – it seems that the investigation is doing everything in their power to exclude law-enforcement officers from the case, and some unidentified civilians remain, who inflicted Aram grave bodily harm, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Roman Veretennikov comments. – We still think that the case should be handed over for further investigation to the central office of the Investigative Committee, and we will insist on this”.