On Friday, 23 January, the Moskovskiy district court of Nizhny Novgorod obliged two former police officers who in December 2005 had been found guilty of torturing detainee Alexey Mikheyev, now disabled, to pay 8.5 million roubles. Thanks to the efforts of the Interregional Committee against Torture where Mr. Mikheyev’s mother had applied for help, the criminal case against two investigators of the Leninskiy District Directorate of the Interior reached the court, and in January 2006 the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged the fact of tortures and sustained Mr. Mikheyev’s claim filed by the Committee in his interests and obliged the Russian Federation to pay him 250 thousand euro. Two and a half years after those events, Nizhny Novgorod region Prosecutor Valeriy Maksimenko brought a suit to court in order to make the police officers guilty of tortures who had already been released from custody to pay the Russian Federation the money it had to pay out to the victim in execution of the European Court judgment.
The court sustained the Prosecutor’s claim and obliged former convicts Somov and Kosterin to pay 8 million 530 thousand roubles, i.e. 250 thousand euro.
Such Prosecutor’s initiative is commendable. The prosecutor’s office thinks that this step is rather timely. In recent years budgets of all levels have paid 17 000 000 roubles only to torture victims under Committee against Torture cases.
This means, basically, that law-abiding citizens, tax-payers, have to pay for crimes committed by state agents.
A regress suit in such a situation ensures that the damage incurred to the Russian Treasury by unlawful actions of law enforcement agents is remedied, and for the police it is one more warning that can withhold them from exceeding their official powers.
Specialists of the Committee against Torture hope that Valeriy Maksimenko’s progressive initiative will not be the only case. Only in Nizhny Novgorod region there have been numerous convictions of law enforcement agents for abuse of official powers. And victims of their unlawful actions have received compensations from the state.
If the Prosecutor’s office decides to file regress suits under such cases as Shkurin, Sankin, Karpov, Maslova, this will show that the main supervisory body of the RF cares for law-abiding citizens and intents to protect their interests.