The way they investigate torture in the Chechen Republic


27 November 2013

Resident of a Chechen city Shali, Umalt Boltiev, applied to the Joint Mobile Group of human rights defenders working in Chechnya seeking legal assistance. According to the man, on 11 August 2013 he was detained by the police and was then kept under detention for eight days in the premises of Shali District Department of the Interior, where he was beaten and tortured. At the end of August the Investigative Committee initiated criminal proceedings against two police officers concerning the incident in question, and carried out some adequate investigative steps. However, the further development was not that promising.

According to Mr Boltiev, on 11 August 2013 he was detained in Shali by the police for drunk driving and taken to the district police department. There, in the office of the commander of police patrol battalion under Shali District Department of the Interior, Ruslan Degaev, police officers demanded that the detainee sign before a video camera a search record which read that some tablets had been found in the man’s car. After Umalt had refused to, the officers attached wires to his fingers and started torturing him with electricity.

(Photo: injuries on Umalt Boltiev’s body)

As Umalt told the JMG lawyers, officer Degaev was first hitting him with a truncheon on his head, arms and legs, then ordered his colleagues to go on instead of him, and announced that Umalt would have to «confess» before a video camera that the officers had seized marijuana from him. Having again received a negative answer, the policemen continued the severe battery for some more time, and locked him up in a temporary isolation ward. The man spent three days in the cell. During that days he was receiving nothing but hot water. The next interrogation he was taken to had the purpose to make him sign a new record which read that Umalt Boltiev was on 13 August 2013 detained in Shali suburbs having marijuana with him. Umalt refused to, and was once again beaten up by Mr Degaev and some other policemen. In the end Umalt signed the documents under the threat of sexual violence.

The same day Umalt’s state deteriorated, and he was accepted to Shali central hospital. However, having discovered that the victim’s relatives had filed an ill-treatment complaint with the Investigative Committee, the police officers took him back to the temporary detention facility for his fellow detainees to nurse him. Umalt was released only on August 19,  after he had confirmed before the Internal Security Directorate of the Interior and the Interregional Investigative Department his torturers’ account of events, which was that Mr Boltiev had been detained on 13 August 2013 having marijuana with him.

The next day Umalt Boltiev brought his torture complaints to the attention of Rashid Ramzaev, an investigator for particularly important cases with the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Chechen Republic. Surprisingly enough, criminal proceedings were started against Ruslan Degaev and one of his colleagues, whilst Umalt was granted victim status.

«The situation is unheard of in this very region. A criminal investigation is carried out into torture in the police. Moreover, the investigator was taking important investigative steps, Mr Boltiev was included into state victim protection program list», says Dmitry Laptev, a lawyer working with the JMG, «Nevertheless, further development was not that optimistic. There appeared a telephone call record on the Internet, in which a man whose voice resembles the one of the Head of Shali District Department of the Interior Ruslan Ireziev talks to an investigator, Rashid by name, in a rude and violent manner. After this, Ramzaev was removed from the case, and there are rumors that he was transferred to another investigative body. Since then several investigators one after another have been in charge of the case. Umalt Boltiev, fearing that due to the pressure put on the investigation the proceedings might be turned down, applied to our Joint Mobile Group for help».

On 26 November 2013 lawyers with the JMG were granted access to the case file as the victim’s representatives. Now that the human rights defenders have legally become members of the prosecuting party in this case, they are determined to strive for the investigation to be impartial and effective in order to restore the victim’s rights and bring those responsible to justice.

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