During personal appointment, Deputy Head of Investigative Department of Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kabardino-Balkarskaya Republic Alim Babayev informed the victim in the criminal case Rustam Kuchmenov and his representatives that investigator Azamat Khazhirokov, who was in charge of the case, is punished for red tape and transferred with down-grading to another department. Now, new investigator Azamar Makoyev, will deal with investigation of the criminal case, which Mr Babayev took control of.
As we have previously reported, on 15 December 2017, Rustam Kuchmenov from Nalchik applied to the North Caucasus branch of the Committee Against Torture. According to Rustam, on 2 June of last year armed police officers stormed into his apartment. Without explaining the reason, human rights defenders handcuffed him, put a black plastic bag on his head and took him to the Department of Criminal Investigations of the Ministry of the Interior for the Kabardino-Balkarskaya Republic. There the police officers demanded that he wrote a full confession of having committed a theft.
According to Mr Kuchmenov, after he refused to testify against himself, the police officers tied his hands and feet up with scotch tape, and attached a metal wire line on metal pins. One of the officers was pressing Kuchmenov’s head to the floor with his foot, and the other was holding the victim’s feet.
– I started to tell them that after the car crash I have a metal fixture holding my neck vertebrae. In response one of the police officers only pressed more strongly with all his body weight onto my neck, saying that he was going to squash my head and play football with it, – Kuchmenov remembers.
According to Rustam, then the police officers started to torture him, applying the electricity producing device: “Several times I passed out, after that they poured water on me, but I still refused to testify against myself”.
According to Rustam, after some time he was moved to another room, they gave him a cigarette and some water. However, sometime later the execution continued: “One of the police officers demanded that I confessed of having committed theft, and after I refused, he forced a bodkin into my thigh. Later, during the interrogation, the police officer hit me in the face in the presence of the investigator”.
Together with Kuchmenov, his cousin and his acquaintance were apprehended. According to them, the police officers tortured them and demanded that they confessed of thefts, as well. As a result, a criminal case was initiated regarding all three apprehended persons on suspicion of having committed several thefts, and in June of last year they were put into the investigative confinement cell.
After several months of custody, Rustam was released on condition not to leave town. The reason for that was the conclusion of the medical commission which established that due to the damage of the metal fixture in his neck Kuchmenov cannot stay at the confinement cell.
On 5 June 2017, Rustam applied to the Investigative Committee with a complaint concerning violence and electricity torture to have been applied against him. On 8 July, a criminal case was opened against one of the police officers under item “a” part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”).
The criminal case was quite promptly opened; however, it came to a halt – no investigative activities with the victim’s participation were conducted. Having concern about the investigation progress and in fear of pressure by the police officers, in December of last year Rustam applied to the Committee Against Torture for help. At the same time, the human rights defenders got involved in the trial in a capacity of the victim’s representatives.
After that for some time he investigation went on with quite an intensive rate, several more identifications were conducted, during which Kuchmenov identified five police officers who participated in his tortures. According to the victim, totally there were nine of them.
However, starting from March of this year, the investigation came to a halt again. Investigator Azamat Khazhirokov has not performed any investigative activities for over a month: the checking of the testimony at the scene of the incident was not performed, identifications with all police officers who were apprehended Kuchmenov, were not performed, suspect Anzor Ashkhotov was not charged, he even has not been suspended from duty till now.
On 14 May 2018 Rustam Kuchmenov and lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov, representing his interests, told Deputy Head of the Republican Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee Alim Babayev during personal appointment.
Mr Babayev replied that the facts of the red tape were established by investigator Khazhirokov previously: based on the results of checks he was several times subjected to disciplinary action. Last time he received a reprimand, and he was transferred to another department with a down-grade.
“Deputy Head of the Republican Investigative Department notified us that he takes control of the investigation of this criminal case; he also informed that from now on new investigator Azamat Makoyev will be working on it, who is given written instructions on conducting specific investigative activities”, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov comments.