Those in charge of beating and raping a Nizhny Novgorod resident can be held responsible even after expiry of the limitation period


09 April 2012

On April 9 we have learnt that the European Court of Human Rights has asked the Russian Government questions under the second application of Nizhny Novgorod resident Olga Maslova beaten and raped by prosecutorial workers. The Court’s questions refer to non-execution of the ECtHR judgment delivered in 2008.

You may remember that on November 25, 1999 Olga Maslova was summoned as a witness for interrogation to the Directorate of the Interior where she was beaten and raped by three prosecutorial officials and a policeman. Ms. Maslova notified the Prosecutor’s Office about the crime. However, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigation Authorities of Nizhny Novgorod region refused to conduct an effective investigation under the young woman’s application. Criminal proceedings were instigated, but later many times suspended and resumed.

Having lost hope to restore her rights in Russia, Olga applied to the ECtHR with the help of the CAT. On 24 January 2008 the European Court delivered a judgment under Olga Maslova’s case. The chamber unanimously held that Olga had been subjected to multiple tortures and rape by police and prosecutorial agents, and the official investigation into that crime had been ineffective.

The following day after the judgment was delivered, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office held a press-conference which was widely covered in mass media. At that time Head of the Directorate For Ensuring Prosecutorial Involvement in Criminal Trials Sergey Poludnevich said by way of excuse that the case “was still prospective from the point of view of judicial proceedings”. He also added that charges against the four former law enforcers were grounded and remarked that the judiciary was to blame for not trying the case for nine years.  “The Prosecutor’s Office has always supported the victim, although this case besmears its reputation”, Sergey Poludnevich stated. 

Nevertheless, even when the ECtHR judgment entered into force, the investigation in Russia did not progress. On November 25, 2009 the limitation period for bringing former officers of the police and Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor’s Office – Milkov, Serov, Khmelyov and Zhiryakov – in charge of abusing and raping Olga Maslova to criminal responsibility expired.

In such context CAT lawyers representing Maslova had to conclude that the Russian Federation had gravely violated the principles of law by ignoring the ECtHR judgment. At the end of 2009 a corresponding application under several ECHR articles was lodged with the European Court.

Now the Russian Government has to explain its position to Strasbourg. It must be noted that the application claims that Russia failed to execute the ECtHR judgment of January 24, 2008 in full by confining itself only to payment damages without prosecuting the perpetrators. However, the obligation to execute ECtHR judgments is contained in Article 46 of the Convention. 

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