The Nizhegorodsky Regional Court upheld the verdict of three former police officers guilty of tortures


19 November 2021

On 18 November, the Nizhegorodsky Regional Court upheld the verdict of three former law-enforcement officers who beat up apprehended Leonid Mursky and threatened to drown him in 2015.

The court’s verdict of convicts Sergey Lebedev, Nikolay Atamashko, Aleksey Khrulev was softer than is provided by the law for such a crime (Article 64 of the Criminal Code of the RF) and took into account the period of stay under house arrest from October to February 2019 at the rate of day for day. At the same time, according to part 3.4 of Article 72 of the Criminal Code, the time of stay under house arrest is to be taken into account at the rate of two days for one day. The rest of the verdict remained unchanged.

“We don’t agree to this ruling, because the sentence was too soft. Lebedev, Atamashko and Khrulev are not stripped off the special ranks. And their colleagues escaped from responsibility for false testimony in court, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shounin commented on the situation. — In addition, the punishment under Article 64 of the Criminal Code of the RF can be softened depending on the motives. In the criminal case, “personal hostile feelings” are identified as a motive. It means, that if the police officers torture not forcing a confession, but out of personal hostile feelings, their punishment will be softened.

As we have previously reported, Leonid Mursky applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. He told human rights defenders that in March 2015 he was apprehended near the door of his house and taken to the Department of the Ministry of the Interior for Nizhny Novgorod, where the police officers started to extort from him the confession of sale of drugs. The police officers were hitting him and threatened to take him to the Grebnoy channel and drown him there. According to Mursky, he treated the words of the police officers as a direct threat to life and wrote a confession as dictated by them. Later on, the man was sentenced to four and a half years of prison term.

Leonid applied to the first aid station, where he was registered with: “Bruises and scratches of the forehead, suspected non-displaced fracture of 6th-7th odontoid vertebras”. In their turn, medical forensic experts diagnosed Leonid with a closed craniocerebral injury.

During the pre-investigative check the investigators issued six refusals to initiate criminal proceedings with regard to the Mursky’s torture complaint. Human rights defenders successively appealed against these rulings, however, the last refusal was declared legal by the courts of two instances.

With regard to this, on 5 April 2017, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Leonid Mursky. Two years later, a criminal case on abuse of office using violence was opened (item “a”, Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF).

During the time of the investigation, former police officers Sergey Lebedev, Nikolay Atamashko and Aleksey Khrulev did not acknowledge their guilt. In their last statement in court they asked to acquit them. As a result, Atamashko and Khrulev were sentenced to two and a half years of prison term in a standard security penal colony, and Lebedev – to two years of conditional term.

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