Three residents of Orenburg received 70 000 rubles each as compensation for the protracted investigation of torture


17 July 2023


In 2010, Yury Zontov, Svetlana Gumerova and Larisa Pikalova were arrested on suspicion of theft and beaten at the police station. Under pressure, the arrested incriminated themselves, but it soon became clear that they were not involved in the relevant crime. Three police officers were found guilty of ill-treatment only in May 2022, but they escaped any real punishment due to the statute of limitations.

The lawyers of the Crew Against Torture demanded 700 000 rubles as compensation in favor of the victims for delays in the investigation, because more than 12 years had passed from the lodged crime report to the court’s judgment against those policemen. The Orenburg Regional Court, having partially satisfied the civil action of the CAT lawyers, awarded Yury Zontov, Svetlana Gumerova and Larisa Pikalova 70 000 rubles each.

The human rights activists plan to challenge the court’s decision, seeking a higher sum of compensation.

«The criminal case into torture was opened 10 years after the incident. The evidence was collected due to the professionalism of the investigator, Azamat Zhamansariyev. Thus, one could ask: what prevented the initial investigators from working as effectively 12 years ago, when torture reports were just filed? That foot dragging of the investigation has resulted in the fact that the policemen escaped punishment, and all these years our applicants have experienced a sense of fear and injustice. Obviously, the compensation is disproportionate to the suffering experienced by Svetlana Gumerova, Larisa Pikalova and Yury Zontov.»

In May 2010, three applicants were arrested on suspicion of several thefts. They denied their involvement in these crimes, but officers Ivan Kudinov, Denis Fyodorov and Sergey Kornilov beat them and forced them to incriminate themselves. Doctors diagnosed the victims with multiple injuries: Larisa Pikalova had a concussion, Svetlana Gumerova had a tuft of hair pulled out on her head, and Mr. Zontov had a chest bruise.

Soon the investigation established that all three individuals had not committed these crimes, and the prosecution ended.

The victims applied to the CAT only 9 years after the incident. The human rights defenders succeeded in initiating a criminal case against the policemen; the lawyers also helped the victims to receive 350 000 rubles in compensation for the unlawful criminal prosecution. The former police officers were brought to justice only in May 2022. The court found them guilty, but did not penalize them due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The judge noted the «particular cruelty and sadism» of the crime.

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