The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation passed a ruling to resume proceedings based on the complaint from a citizen from Nizhny Novgorod about the police torture in 2008

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20 January 2016

Today the  Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has examined the report on resuming the court proceedings based on the complaint of Sergey Lyapin from Nizhny Novgorod against the police torture in 2008 due to  newly discovered facts. This new fact is the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR), which in 2014 passed a judgement in Lyapin’s case, having acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures, having also established that the investigative authorities failed to conduct an adequate investigation at the national level. Today’s ruling of the Supreme Court will initiate the check based on Sergey Lyapin’s complaint. 

(Photo: Sergey Lyapin and lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov)

The story of a father of five kids, who on 9 July 2008 applied to the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Committee Against Torture, goes as follows. According to Sergey, during the night of the 24th – 25th of April he was collecting scrap metal near one of garage blocks of Ilyinskoye of the Volodarskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod region. All of a sudden he was detained by officers from the Volodarskiy police department, as he was told, «on suspicion of committing thefts». 

According to the applicant, in the police department he was beaten up and then tortured with electricity. As Sergey recalls: «In order to make the torture more effective they poured water on electric contacts and my hands. I passed out several times».

Later the detainee was subject to the investigation formalities and the judge of the peace sentenced Sergey to 5 days of administrative arrest «for disobeying the police», after that he was sent to a special detention centre to serve his sentence.

Next day Mr. Lyapin grew worse and he was taken right from his cell first to a first-aid station and to hospital. Mr.Lyapin’s diagnosis was – numerous traumas and bodily damage: concussion, chest contusion, thermal burns on both hands.

After completion of two-days treatmment course (Sergey never served the full term of his administrative punishment) Mr.Lyapin applied to the investigation authorities with a complaint against the police officers’ actions. However, Dzerzhinsky Interregional Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor’s Office of the RF for the Nizhny Novgorod region performed a highly inefficient check. During one and a half years the investigators issued at least ten refusals to start a criminal case, 9 of them have been found unlawful and unmotivated.

Having exhausted all domestic remedies in the case of Sergey Lyapin, human rights defenders were forced to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. As a result the Strasbourg judges acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not perform an adequate investigation of this fact. The applicant was awarded a compensation in the amount of 45 000 euro.

One of Sergey Lyapin’s representatives in the ECHR Anton Ryzhov emphasized at that point: «Firstly, Strasbourg destroyed the arguments of the Russian side, having acknowledged that Sergey was right. Moreover, the Court acknowledged that the degree of violence applied to Lyapin reached the amount of torture, also due to the fact that the electricity was used. The ECHR also pointed out that the mere fact of absence of the initiated criminal case became the reason of inefficiency of the subsequent investigation».

«However, even after the ruling of the European Court the Russian law-enforcement agencies still have not commenced the investigation and have not brought the guilty party to justice. The above-mentioned ruling was ignored by the investigation, and the sum of compensation, awarded by the ECHR, became the responsibility of common tax-payers and not of the police officers guilty of tortures, with silent indulgence of the Investigative Committee, – lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Albert Kuznetsov, representing Sergey Lyapin’s interests, comments. – Neither the applicant nor his support team was satisfied with such result. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to achieve resuming the investigation at the level of the regional Investigative Committee, we applied to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, legitimately assuming that the guilty of tortures should not get away with it, when Russian citizens all together are obliged to pay for their crimes». 

Today the Presidium of the Supreme Court has quashed the rulings of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court and the Dzerzhinsky City Court, which declared legal the ruling of the investigator to refuse initiating criminal case based on Sergey Lyapin’s complaint on torture. Now the investigators will be obliged to resume their work on this complaint.