The police officer in the Krasnodar region, whom the married couple accuses of torture, at the request of investigator with the Investigative Committee Victor Melnichenko performed an interrogation of the witness in the framework of the check of the torture complaint against himself, having obtained from her explanations favorable for him.
A year and a half later, investigator Melnichenko submitted a request to the psychiatric clinic asking to inspect the victim for bodily injuries. The psychiatric clinic reasonably answered they were not dealing with such type of issues. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture for the third time successfully insisted on resuming the check of the married couple’s torture complaint and will insist on suspending investigator Melnichenko from work and on his punishment.
As we have previously reported, in June 2019, residents of the Kurganinsky District of the Krasnodar Territory – married couple Olga Shvetsova and Valery Malakhov applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. They informed human rights defenders that the police officers of the Gulkevichsky Police Department beat them up in April 2018, while forcing them to sign a confession of murder of an old woman who used to dwell next door to them.
According to the applicants, on 14 April 2018, the investigative officers brought them from their home to the Gulkevichsky Police Department. There, according to Ms Shvetsova, the police officers intentionally smoked inside the office, which led to her suffocating, since she has asthma condition. They also hit her head with a thick book, hit her body with their hands, twisted her handcuffed arms, threatened that they will find drugs at her son’s place.
That’s what Valery Malakhov told about his stay at the police department: “I was told I should write a confession, and if I confess I’d get six years, and if not – fifteen. After I refused, some of the officers came up behind me and started to pour boiling water onto me: he poured on the top of my head, the water was flowing on the back of my head. It hurt a lot, and the police officers commented: “We are going to skin you alive now, you’ll be like Fantomas”.
The medical forensic examination report stated: “Valery Malakhov was incurred damage in the form of a thermal burn with a hot liquid of the occipital region and the neck of I and II degree of 1% of the surface of the body, an extravasation of the right thigh, which was generated from impact force of a solid blunt object”.
On the next day the married couple was released.
However, on 19 April, Olga Shevtsova was taken to the local police department again. There, according to her, the police officers beat her up again, forcing to confess: “The investigative officer took a big empty plastic bottle from a dispenser and started to hit me with it – my head, shoulders, my back. He made three or four blows, I started to dodge, the police officer said if I dodge, he’ll handcuff me”.
Olga Shvetsova was taken in custody twice: on 21 April 2018 and on 2 July 2019. In the first case she was never charged and 10 days later she was released. And on 2 July 2019, she was detained, she was charged with murder. Now she is kept at the Pre-Trial Detention Center No.1 of Krasnodar.
Later on, on 25 December 2019, she was found guilty of this crime and convicted to seven years of prison term.
According to Shvetsova, on 2 July she was taken to the Temporary Detention Cell of the Kurganinsky District, where the criminal investigations officers came to her (she does not know their names). They forced her to confess of murder, threatening that in case she refuses her son would be brought to criminal responsibility. On 6 July, during the night, having yielded to pressure, she signed the confession as it was dictated by the police officer. On 18 July, in the presence of his lawyer, Olga informed the investigator about the pressure exerted upon her by the police officers, and she withdrew her confessionary statements.
After the incident, Olga and Valery submitted applications to the Prosecutor’s Office and the territorial Department of Federal Security Service, who, in their turn, readdressed these applications to the Gulkevichsky Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Krasnodar Territory.
During the pre-investigative check the investigators of this department issued three rulings refusing to initiate criminal proceedings. All these rulings were appealed against by lawyers with the Committee Against Torture and were subsequently quashed as illegal.
During the appealing against the last refusal to initiate criminal proceedings, human rights defenders managed to find out that the police officer whom the married couple accuse of tortures, at the request of investigator with the Investigative Committee Victor Melnichenko performed an interrogation of the witness who was together with Olga Shvetsova in April 2018 in the Temporary Detention Facility cell, having obtained from her explanations favorable for himself.
For example, according to her cell mate, Shvetsova allegedly mentioned that her husband received a burn from the KAMAZ truck exhaust pipe. As to herself, she did not complain of any tortures and there were no bodily injuries on her.
In the case materials, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture also found the request of investigator Melnichenko submitted to the psychiatric clinic asking to inspect Olga Shvetsova for bodily injuries. To this request a reasonable answer came: “We bring to your knowledge that the medical inspection for bodily injuries, including scars, is a part of forensic medical experts. Forensic psychiatric examination is not dealing with such issues”.
Today, human rights defenders received an answer from the Investigative Committee stating that the last refusal dated 30 October 2019 was quashed, and additional pre-investigative check of the torture complaint is ongoing.
“Having studied the materials of Shvetsova and Malakhov’s torture complaints, back in the middle of March we applied to the superiors of the regional investigative department with a request to suspend investigator Victor Melnichenko from work on these complaints, bring him to disciplinary action, as well as consider his adequacy for his job”, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Anna Kotsareva comments. – What we observe is a blatant violation of the requirements of the Criminal Procedural Code of Russia as well as of the criteria of the effective investigation, developed by the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, when a police officer who is accused of torture gets involved in the work on the check of these complaints”.