The Supreme Court of Russia passed a ruling to resume proceedings with regard to a torture complaint from a citizen from Orenburg


30 July 2018

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation obliged the investigative authorities to examine once again the complaint of Yury Zontov from Orenburg against the police torture that took place seven years ago. The court passed this ruling due to the new circumstance – Zontov’s complaint was satisfied at the European Court of Human Rights.

(© RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko)

As we have previously reported, in September 2011 Yury Zontov applied for legal assistance to the Orenburg office of INGO «The Committee Against Torture». He told the human rights defenders that on 27 August he was taken to the police department No.4 for Orenburg city. There police officers were beating him, hitting his feet with rubber truncheons, and strangling him with a plastic bag in order to make the man confess of thefts of a cell phone and a golden necklace. Having yielded to tortures Yury signed the full confession.

At the first-aid station the man told the doctors that he was beaten up by the police. Later the bodily injuries were registered when he was transferred to the temporary detention facility (IVS) and to a pre-trial detention center (SIZO): bruises on the chest and both feet, numerous scratches on the lower back, in the area of left cheek-bone and in the area of both wrist joints.

On 30 September 2011, the crime report based on this case was submitted to the Investigative Department for Orenburg of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Orenburg region. During the pre-trial investigation 20 dismissals to initiate criminal case were issued, 19 of which were subsequently quashed at the initiative of the human rights defenders as illegal and ungrounded.

Having exhausted all domestic remedies aimed at restoring Yury’s rights at the national level, in April 2014 human rights defenders lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR). In a year, in March 2015, it was communicated.

It is worth noting that after the complaint was sent to the European Court of Human Rights the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case under the article «Abuse of office», however the Prosecutor’s Office of the Promyshlennyi District of Orenburg immediately dismissed it on the grounds that Zontov received bodily injuries as a result of wrestling techniques used by the police officers.

All the attempts of human rights defenders to insist on initiating the criminal case turned out to be in vain.
On 2 May 2017, the European Court of Human rights passed a ruling concerning the complaint submitted on behalf of Yury Zontov. The Strasbourg judges have unanimously established violations of Article 3 of the Convention in negative and procedural aspects: the applicant was subjected to tortures and this fact was not efficiently investigated. With regard to this Zontov was awarded a compensation for moral damage in the amount of 45 000 euro.

After the ECHR ruling entered into legal force, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation with a request to resume the check based on Yury Zontov’s complaint of torture.

On 17 May of this year the Supreme Court of Russia quashed the rulings of the Orenburg courts, which declared the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings to be legal and passed a ruling to resume the check based on Zontov’s complaint.

Today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture received a copy of this ruling.

“We are satisfied with the ruling of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. In its ruling the panel of judges quotes, among other things, the ruling of the European Court, which points out that the “state authorities are obliged to initiate a criminal case and perform the corresponding investigation”, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Timur Rahmatullin comments. – We agree with the Strasbourg judges about this and we will be insisting that our state initiates the criminal case and establishes all the circumstances of how Yury Zontov got his bodily injuries at the police department. In addition, we intend to bring the attention of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia at the ruling of the officer of the Orenburg Prosecutor’s Office who once quashed the opening of the criminal case and prevented the investigative authority from conducting a proper investigation”.

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