Today, on 21 August 2019, the panel of judges of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court chaired by Kirill Drouzin, upheld the verdict of the court of the first instance, by which district police officer Oleg Kashtanov was found guilty of electricity torture and the battery of a detained person in 2008 and sentenced to three and a half years of conditional term. Due to the expiry of the period of limitations, Kashtanov was released from punishment. Since the persons guilty of torture escaped from punishment, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Mr Lyapin.
The story of Sergey Lyapin, who applied for legal assistance to the Committee Against Torture on July 9, 2008, is as follows. According to Sergey, during the night of the 24th – 25th of April 2008 he was collecting scrap metal near one of garage blocks of Ilyinogorskoye settlement (the Nizhny Novgorod region). All of a sudden he was detained by security police officers from the Volodarskiy police department, as he was told, “on suspicion of committing thefts”, and delivered to the local police department.
According to the applicant, at the police department first he was beaten up, and then the police officers started to torture him with electricity.
“In order to enhance the effect they poured water on electrical contacts and my hands. Several times I passed out”, – Sergey recalled.
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.
On 26 April Mr. Lyapin grew worse and from his cell he was taken first to a trauma station in Nizhny Novgorod, and then to hospital. There he was diagnosed with numerous injuries and traumas: concussion, chest contusion, thermal burns on both hands.
Upon the completion of two-days treatment course (Sergey never served full administrative sentence), Lyapin applied to the investigative authorities with a complaint against the actions of the police officers. However, the check that the Dzerzhinsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee under the Prosecutor’s Office of the RF for the Nizhny Novgorod region performed based on this complaint was highly inefficient. During one and a half year investigators issued at least ten refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, nine of these refusals were declared illegal.
Having exhausted all remedies for Sergey Lyapin at the national level, human rights defenders were forced to submit a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. On 24 July 2014, the Strasbourg judges acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s tortures in their ruling, as well as established that the investigative authorities did not conduct an adequate investigation of this fact. The applicant was awarded a compensation in the amount of 45 000 Euro.
On 20 January 2016, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation satisfied the motion for resuming the proceedings with regard to Lyapin’s complaint of torture due to the new circumstance – the European Court of Human Right’s ruling.
On 16 March 2016 investigator of the Investigative Department for Dzerzhinsk of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Roman Shamshutdinov initiated criminal proceedings based on the fact of Sergey Lyapin’s tortures.
During the preliminary investigation the criminal case was illegally suspended four times, due to which the indictment was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Volodarsky District only two years after it was opened – on 9 April 2018.
On 17 May 2018, during the court hearing, defendant Vitaly Starikov asked the court to dismiss criminal prosecution against him due to expiry of the state of limitations with regard to the alleged crime. Judge Irina Ermakova satisfied this motion.
After that the court hearing continued only with regard to the second defendant – Oleg Kashtanov, who is active police officer.
On 11 April of this year, judge of the Volodarsky District Court Irina Ermakova declared Mr Oleg Kashtanov to be guilty of the crime under items “a”, “b” of part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence and special equipment”) and sentenced him to three and a half years of conditional term. Due to the expiry of the period of limitations, Kashtanov was released from punishment.
The parties in the trial appealed against the verdict to the court of appeals.
Today, the panel of judges of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court chaired by Kirill Druzin upheld the verdict and dismissed the appellate complaints. The verdict entered into legal force.
“It was, of course, obvious to us even on the day when the case was submitted to the court of the first instance, that the defendants would escape from real jail time. Despite this, the court should have taken into account all the circumstances of the case. However, the gravity of the committed crime and the presence of such an aggravating circumstance as a group of persons were ignored by the court. Due to that, Kashtanov was assigned a conditional sentence, – Yuliya Osipova, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of Sergeyt Lyapin, comments. – We appealed against the verdict in the part of unjust and excessively mild punishment, but our arguments were not taken into account. Nevertheless, the convict will not ever work in the system of the Ministry of the Interior”.
As we have previously reported, on 3 September 2018, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted a second complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Sergey Lyapin, since the Russian investigative authorities failed to conduct efficient investigation of the torture case, which allowed the guilty police officers to escape from responsibility. In 2014, the Strasbourg judges already acknowledged the fact of Sergey’s torture, as well as established that the investigative authorities failed to conduct an efficient investigation of this fact.