Today, on 25 February 2021, the period of limitation for bringing to criminal responsibility the police officers who tortured Aleksey Sinegubov ten years ago, expired. In December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights published a ruling about a settlement agreement, by which the Russian authorities acknowledged their guilt in tortures of Aleksey by the police officers and in absence of effective investigation of this incident. However, the investigators of the Investigative Committee never initiated the criminal case on torture. Now, even if the guilty law-enforcement officers will be established, none of them will be punished.
As we have previously reported, on 6 September 2011, Nadezhda Sinegubova applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. According to her, her son Aleksey was tortured by the police officers. Later on, Aleksey applied to human rights defenders himself.
He reported that in the night from 23 to 24 February 2011 he went out to buy cigarettes. He was stopped near the food stall by the police officers who told him he should go to the police department with them because he fits the description of some wanted person.
– When we came to the police department, a girl went out, looked at me, and said, “This is him!” Then I was taken to the cell for the detained, – Aleksey recalls.
According to Sinegubov, the whole next day investigative officers “worked” with him – forced to confess of an assault related to robbery against the girl. Aleksey claims to have been humiliated, hit with a gas mask on his head, hit numerous times all over his body, blocked the air access with a plastic bag, as a result of which he lost consciousness. According to Aleksey, he never confessed of having committed this crime.
Late in the evening Sinegubov was taken to the temporary detention cell. There numerous bodily injuries were registered on him: “extravasations in the area of the right shoulder, in the area of axillary cavities, in the loin area on the left, on the chest area on the right, abrasion on the forehead on the right, abrasions on the hairy part of the head, abrasions on both wrists made by handcuffs, swelling of the knee joint on the right, the joint is limited in its movement”.
In July 2011, Aleksey Sinegubov was declared guilty of assault related to robbery. He was sentenced to five years of prison time.
In March 2011, Sinegubov applied to the investigative authorities with a torture complaint. During the seven-years pre-investigative check twenty refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were issued, which were subsequently quashed as illegal and ungrounded at the initiative of lawyers with the Committee Against Torture. However, no criminal case was opened.
Having exhausted all possible remedies for restoring Sinegubov’s rights at the domestic level, in June 2014, human rights defenders submitted a complaint on his behalf to the European Court of Human Rights. After four years, the complaint was communicated: the Strasbourg court posed questions to the Russian Federation on whether the applicant was subjected to torture and whether the investigation of this incident was efficient.
In response, the Ministry of Justice of Russia offered Aleksey Sinegubov to conclude a settlement agreement, according to which our state acknowledged its guilt in tortures of the applicant by the police officers and in absence of effective investigation of this incident. 20000 Euro was offered to the applicant as compensation. Aleksey agreed to this offer.
On 5 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights published a ruling about this settlement agreement.
After this, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture applied to head of the Investigative Committee Aleksandr Bastrykin with a request to resume the check of Sinegubov’s complaint at the national level, as our country acknowledged that tortures were applied to him.
Human rights defenders received an answer from the Investigative Committee stating that on 5 June 2020 the refusal related to Sinegubov’s torture complaint, issued on 4 May 2018, was quashed. Additional check is started with regard to his application.
However, based on its results, the investigators issued several more refusals, the latest – on 8 October 2020.
Today, the period of limitation for bringing the police officers who tortured Aleksey Sinegubov, expired in February 2011. They will not be subjected to any punishment.
“It is not the first time when the Orenburg investigators are burying the torture case. In May of last year, in the same way the law enforcement officers who tortured Vladimir Prytkov, escaped the responsibility. Despite the official position of Russia which acknowledged that Sinegubov was tortured by the police, the investigative authorities never performed any active actions to bring the culprits to responsibility, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Albina Mudarisova comments. — In the nearest future, we will apply to the central office of the Investigative Committee of Russia with a request to perform a check with regard to the Orenburg investigators who failed to find the culprits of Sinegubov’s torture for ten years, considering that Aleksey mentioned the specific names himself and was ready to identify his torturers”.