The Nizhny Novgorod Court established that illegal actions of the investigators helped the guilty of tortures to escape from punishment


25 October 2021

The Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod passed a ruling, according to which a former police officer escaped from punishment for tortures due to illegal actions of the Avtozavosdky Department of the Investigative Committee investigators, who kept delaying the investigation. The Committee Against Torture insists on bringing the investigators to disciplinary action.

As we have previously reported, on 24 May 2011, Ekaterina Semenova and Aleksandr Semenov applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. They told human rights defenders that on 19 May of the same year Aleksandr was beaten up by the officers of the police department No.1 of the Avtozavodsky District while being forced to confess of murder. An envelope torture was applied to him, during which a person is literally folded by halves, his arms being pulled behind the back and tied up with a rope. Since Aleksandr was refusing to sign a confession, tortures continued. The police officers were choking him, putting a plastic bag on his head, electrocuted him, and etc.

In their explanations, the police officers informed that Semenov attempted to flee from them, ran out of the building and fell on the ground, as a result, he developed his bodily injuries. However, a medical forensic expert report disproved their version of events. The expert emphasized that Aleksandr’s injuries may have been developed as a result of tortures.

But, during familiarization with the materials of the pre-investigative check, the Committee Against Torture lawyers found out that the original of this conclusion was lost. Due to this reason, the criminal case was not opened. Only after numerous applications of human rights defenders to the superiors of the regional investigative department, this conclusion was found again and added to the case.

During the check, the investigators issued five dismissals of claims to open a criminal case. All of them were subsequently quashed as illegal.

Only seven years later, in 2018, a criminal case with regards to the elements of crime under item “a” of Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“abuse of office”).

Despite the fact that ex-police officer Aleksey Polushin partially acknowledged his guilt, the investigators failed to identify all the defendants and timely submit the case to court. The period of limitations for bringing to criminal responsibility of the persons guilty of torture expired in May 2021.

On 25 August 2021, judge of the Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod Evgeny Terekhov issued a ruling where he pointed out at illegality of the actions of the investigators which led to former police officer Aleksey Polushin escaping criminal responsibility for committing a grave crime.

In its ruling (available with the CAT), the court pointed out that: “Suspending the preliminary investigation for four times within one and a half years on one and the same unsubstantiated grounds is obviously illegal”. Thus, the illegal actions (inaction) of the executive authorities of the Investigative Department for the Avtozavodsky District of the Investigative Committee for the Russian Federation allowed A.S.Polushin escaping from criminal responsibility with regard to the charges of a grave office crime”.

“In the majority of the cases when Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF is concerned (“abuse of office”), the investigative authorities are inactive, resorting to the red tape. In case of Aleksandr Semenov, the investigative authorities compromised themselves: illegal dismissals of claims to open a criminal case, losing an important piece of evidence, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Kristina Diogidze comments. — And the face-to-face confrontation and interrogations were conducted only in the last half a year before the expiry of the period of limitations. It is important for us that the court pointed out this fact. We intend to ensure that the investigators of the Avtozavodsky Department of the Investigative Committee are brought to disciplinary action”.

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