Today the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court upheld the verdict of six officers of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Avtozavodsky region Police Department, who got conditional sentences on 19 April of this year for abuse of office using violence. Human rights defenders from the Committee for Prevention of Torture intend to appeal against this ruling, as well as to seek for compensation of moral damage to the victims in this case.
(Source of photo: http://oblsudnn.ru)
As we have previously reported, on March 27, 2012 the Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture received applications from Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov alleging they were subjected to unlawful violence by the police officers of Police Department no. 1 of Nizhny Novgorod Department of Interior. It took the investigators of the Investigative Committee over two and a half years to take it to court.
From the very start of the investigation the accused performed active actions for their defense and were applying pressure on the progress of the investigation, different information and administrative capabilities were implemented for this purpose.
For example, the accused succeeded in suspension of the investigator Evgeny Khrokalo from the case, the one who initiated it. However, after that the materials were submitted to the regional department of the Investigative Committee, an investigative group comprising of three investigators was formed. Its Head Yury Yelantsev managed to withhold the pressure of the masters of Avtozavodsky police officers and the case was brought to the court.
The court proceedings took one and a half year – over sixty court sessions took place, in the course of which the materials of forty four volumes of the criminal case were examined and over fifty witnesses were questioned.
On 19 April 2016 at 15:00 the court declared all the defendants of committing a crime under part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF «Abuse of office performed using violence». Former deputy head of Police Department No.1 of Nizhny Novgorod Vladimir Samsonov and former head of the criminal investigation unit Sergey Alimov were sentenced to 4 years and 6 months of conditional sentence, former head of the crimes against property unit Ivan Vechkanov – to 3 years and 8 months of conditional sentence, former investigating officer Sergey Nikolayev and former Deputy Head of Criminal Department Andrey Balandin – to 3 years and 6 months of conditional sentence; former investigating officer of the Department of Crimes Against Property Evgeny Telenkov – to 3 years and 3 months of conditional sentence.
The convicts were not satisfied with the verdict and appealed against it in the Nizhny Novgorod regional court: the convicts and their lawyers intended to insist on a not-guilty verdict, and the State Prosecutor and the victims, in their turn, insisted that the court sentenced the police officers to jail time.
Today the judicial panel of three judges under the chairmanship of judge Ludmila Bakulina upheld the guilty verdict without introducing any significant changes, decreasing the probation period for the convicts by half a year.
– The police officers insisted that they were innocent and asked to declare them not guilty. In his final statement Vladimir Samsonov called his colleagues “the best representatives of criminal investigation” and the verdict – “a severe blow to the image of the city’s police”, – lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Dmitry Utoukin, who represented the interests of victim Nizami Gasanov in court, reports.
The former ombudsman for the Nizhny Novgorod region Vasily Ognev, who appeared in court as Samsonov’s public defender, pointed out that the police officers were acting in order to implement the President’s May decrees and were fighting the ethnic criminality. He claimed that the case against his defendant is a “wedge in the people’s unity of the country”.
Victim Nizami Gasanov said that the crime inflicted a serious moral damage on him. After this psychological trauma he can neither sort out his private life, nor find a normal job. He would be able to recover poise only when his torturers find themselves behind bars.
Lawyer Evgeny Goubin, representing the interests of the victims, brought the court’s attention that the convicted police officers appealed to the fact that Zamanov and Gasanov were guilty of car thefts. However, the criminal case against the victims was dismissed back in 2012 and no new charges from law-enforcement authorities have been brought up against them.
Dmitry Utoukin asked the court to take into account that the convicts may use their connections in the police in order to have their revenge on the victims and the witnesses, and asked to sentence them to jail time.
“Recently one of the witnesses on this criminal case applied to us, who claimed that he was apprehended and taken to the police department. He said that convicts Samsonov and Vechkanov came to the room where he was kept, and told him that they would take revenge for his providing testimony against them in 2012. In this regard we feel concern for the life and health of the victims as well as their families. We intend to appeal against today’s court ruling in the cassation instance, as well as to file a lawsuit against the state seeking for compensation of moral damage”, – Utoukin emphasized.