Yesterday, on 16 February 2017, judge of the Moscow City Court Vladimir Usov declared legal the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings based on the fact of the death of “Zhar-Ptitsa” band drummer Sergey Pestov. Human rights defenders with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, representing the interests of Pestov’s widow, think that the check based on the fact of his death was performed with numerous violations, due to this fact they will apply to the European Court of Human Rights.
As we have previously reported, Pestov died on 5 September 2015 almost immediately after he was found in the state of coma by the ambulance team in Dubna police department. The reanimation attempts were not a success. The forensic medical examination then lasted for a month and issued a conclusion that Sergey Pestov had died of atherosclerotic heart disease and ten fresh hematomas on his body were not the cause of this death.
The Investigation Committee started the check immediately on the same day the Sergey Pestov died and finished it two and a half months later, on 26 November 2015. During this time the investigation drew a conclusion that Sergey Pestov fell on the drum set when he was being arrested in the garage that is why he got two scratch marks on his forehead. However, the situational expertise was not conducted. The expert examination of the fabric which was used to wipe the blood off Sergey’s face was not conducted either. The investigator studied the clothes of Sergey Pestov only a month and a half after the tragic incident and he performed only visual inspection. No biological expert examination was conducted. In fact, the investigation did not strive to find reasonable explanations of the fresh hematomas of the body of Mr Pestov, they were satisfied with the experts findings that the hematomas had no cause-and-effect relations to the death.
In the police department Pestov was interrogated by lead investigator Maksim Zoonegin. According to his testimonies, Pestov was released from the police department at night and he promised to come back in the morning for further discussion. Then, according to the version of Mr Zoonegin, in 10 a.m. on 5 September Pestov turned up in his room where he immediately fell unconscious.
– The strangest thing is that, according to Zoonegin’s testimony, Pestov entered the police department and then the criminal investigator’s office room unnoticed for all the police officers and CCTV cameras, – emphasizes Dmitry Piskunov, lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, representing the interests of Irina Pestova. – The fact that Pestov was released from the police custody in the night also looks rather strange, because in the course of the search in the garage, according to the materials of the criminal case, a large quantity of marijuana was found. We could not find any convincing evidence confirming that Pestov left the police department building that night.
Official check based on the fact of Sergey Pestov’s death was initiated by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Dubna city on 5 September 2015 and on 18 September the materials were transferred to the Chief Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Moscow region.
On 26 November 2015 investigator Vagiz Bekyashev issued a refusal to initiate a criminal case.
Having failed to agree with such a ruling of the investigator, the human rights defenders applied to court. Judicial examination which lingered for over a year ended with yesterday’s ruling of judge Vladimir Usov with the Moscow City Court, who declared legal the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings based on the fact of Sergey Pestov’s death.
– For over a year we were trying to insist on resuming the check of Sergey Pestov’s death and on conducting it efficiently, but our attempts were in vain, – Dmitry Piskunov pitifully points out. – Despite the numerous gaps in the materials of the check no one ever wanted to examine the causes of Sergey’s death. No one wants to answer the question why bodily injuries were found on his body. The investigator completely satisfied himself and his superiors with the conclusion that Pestov hit against the drums and died of excessive agitation. At the same time the investigator did not evaluate in any way the testimony of numerous witnesses who saw and heard the police officers who were beating Pestov in the garage and saw the blood on his face after that. No expert examination of the cloth on which brown colored traces were found was performed, Pestov’s clothes with brown colored traces were not examined either. Since the appellate instance declared legal the refusal to initiate the criminal case, we have no other choice but to apply to international institutions, namely – the European Court of Human Rights.