Today, on 4 February 2019, the European Court of Human Rights passed rulings in the interests of three residents of the Orenburg region who in different time suffered from police torture and ineffective investigation of these incidents – in none of these three cases the persons guilty of torture have been identified and punished. All the applicants, whose interests were represented by lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, are awarded with compensations for moral damage.
The first case involves Aleksey Averkiev from Buzuluk of the Orenburg region. He applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance in January 2009. In his application to human rights defenders he told that on 26 December 2006 he was apprehended by the police officers in his house on suspicion of committing a crime. Later on, he was taken into custody at Pre-Trial Detention Center No.3 of Orenburg, from where he was periodically transported for investigative actions to the Department on Organized Crime for the Orenburg region.
According to Averkiev, on 19 May 2008, when he was once again taken to the Department for Organized Crime Control, he was beaten up by the police officers, allegedly, for the fact that he was familiarizing with the case materials for too long. Upon his return to the Pre-Trial Detention Facility Aleksey was taken for treatment to the medical unit for three days. Medics diagnosed him with: brain concussion, bruise and extravasation of the left lower leg, bruises in the area of the neck and upper lid of the left eye.
Investigative Department under the Prosecutor’s Office of the Orenburg region was checking the Aleksey’s complaint against illegal violence by police officers. During the check four refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were issued, three of them are declared illegal.
In August 2011, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture were forced to submit an application on behalf of Averkiyev to the European Court of Human Rights.
Today’s second ruling of the European Court is passed in the interests of Aleksandr Bogdanov. As the victim recalls, the tortures involved choking using plastic bags, beating with a clasped palm, hanging the victim between the tables on a baseball bat in the «suitcase» pose, threatening with sexual violence. Tortures ended after 39 hours when Bogdanov agreed to confess of his acquaintance’s murder.
On the next day Aleksandr was examined by a forensic medical examiner who registered the hematomas of soft tissues, bruises, abrasions and hemorrhages. On the following day in the course of the bail hearing of the Dzerzhinskiy District Court Bodganov resiled from his confessions obtained under torture.
On 27 October 2011 the crime report was lodged with the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of RF for Orenburg region based on the fact of battery by the police. A little bit later Bogdanov’s brother Denis, and later on Aleksandr himself (already from the place of detention, as in November 2012 he was found guilty of murder and convicted to 9.5 years of imprisonment) applied to the Committee Against Torture with a request to conduct a public investigation and render legal support in the case of Aleksandr’s torture by the police.
During the pre-trial investigation the officers of the investigative department issued seven refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, six of which were quashed either in the exercise of supervisory powers, or as a result of complaints and applications, lodged by the lawyers of the Committee Against Torture.
Having exhausted all domestic remedies available for protection of Aleksandr Bogdanov, in October 2014, lawyers working with the Committee Against Torture lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights on his behalf.
Vladimir Prytkov is the third resident of Orenburg, in whose interests the Strasbourg judges passed the ruling today.
On 9 July 2010, Vladimir Prytkov from Orenburg applied to the regional branch of the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. As Vladimir told the human right defenders, on 19 May 2010 he was detained by officers of Field investigation unit No.2 of the Criminal Investigations of the Ministry of the Interior for the Orenburg region right at his place of work and delivered to the police department. There, according to Prytkov, he was beaten and tortured for about four hours with the purpose of making him confess that he together with his brother was involved in car theft, or to pay a bribe so that he would be only a witness in this case, unlike his brother. Having failed to obtain a confession from Vladimir, the police had to release him.
After such «conversation» with the representatives of the authorities Vladimir went straight to the city hospital No.1, and after his condition grew worse he was urgently hospitalized in the city clinical hospital named after N.I.Pirogov. The following diagnosis was established: «combined craniocerebral injury, brain contusion of medium severity, subarachnoid hemorrhage, contusions of soft tissues of the head, chest contusion, arterial hypertension of 1 and 2 degrees. Asthenoneurotic syndrome».
After he was released from the Pirogov hospital as an in-patient Vladimir was undergoing out-patient treatment in its outpatient clinic for three months.
On 28 June 2010, Prytkov submitted a crime report upon the fact of police abuse to investigative authorities, however for over a year the investigators failed to open a criminal case. Only on 16 November 2011 it was opened on the grounds of evidence of a crime under Article 286 (3) (a) of the Criminal Code of Russia (exceeding official powers with the use of violence).
Despite numerous motions for conducting investigating actions and complaints against inaction of the investigative authorities, submitted by the human rights defenders on behalf of Prytkov, the case was repeatedly dismissed on the grounds that no crime had been committed.
On 7 November 2014, as a result of investigative bodies’ obvious lack of desire to investigate a criminal case based on the fact of Vladimir Prytkov’s police torture, human rights defenders were forced to apply to the European Court of Human Rights.
Today, on 4 February 2020, the Strasbourg judges acknowledged that the Russian Federation violated the articles of the European Convention, guaranteeing prohibition of torture and brutal treatment, as well as the right to effective investigation with regard to all the three applicants. Due to this, compensations for moral damage were awarded to each victim: the state will have to pay 19 400 Euro to Aleksey Averkiyev and Aleksandr Bogdanov each, and 39 700 Euro to Vladimir Prytkov.
“Today, the European Court passed three rulings for twenty-nine applications related to applying torture and brutal treatment, among which there are three applications from our applicants. These cases are united by one common problem – instead of full-fledged investigation of complaints against police torture, Russian investigators confided themselves only to conducting a check, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments. – Once again, the European Court pointed out that this developed practice cannot be considered an effective investigation. With regard to the today’s ECHR ruling we will insist that the national investigative authorities conduct an effective investigation of our applications concerning the police torture”.