17 September 2007

On 18 September at 10 a.m. the Lazarevsky District Court of Sochi starts its proceedings on the merits concerning the criminal case against eight officers of OMON (special police force) charged with the mass cruel treatment of holiday-makers in the youth camp “Druzhba”.

    The policemen are accused of abuse of official powers committed with the use of violence and special means. Seven of them are being held in custody as a preventive measure. Their former commander – police captain Mikhail Pruidze – gave a written undertaking not to leave the place of the proceedings.

    As you may know during the night of 16 to 17 July 2006 two OMON officers, being drunk, “were molesting girls in the café” and then tried to provoke a fight with the visitors. As a result the OMON officers were badly beaten. On leaving the café they promised “to come back and do away with everybody”.

    One day later, during the night of 18 to 19 July several dozens of Sochi OMON personnel came to village Nizhnee Makopse were the “Druzhba” camp is located. They were detaining all teenage boys and men, using violence, electric shockers and bamboo sticks. Some of them, according to the victims, were armed with assault rifles.

    The most dreadful mass detention happened in the seashore café where the day before the two policemen had been beaten. Young male visitors of the café were thrown out behind the café rails and were placed face downwards on the seashore. After “laying” them all the policemen started asking: “Who beat our fellows?” Having got no answer they began asking another question: “Who was from Rostov?” According to the victims, those who raised their hands in response to that question were severely beaten with sticks and administered electric shocks.  

    After that they put everyone in a bus and brought to the police station (ROVD) of Lazarevsky district. The detention process had been witnessed by many people: visitors of the café, passers-by, parents of the detained and local citizens who rushed to the café on hearing the shouts. The parents followed the police bus in their cars. Their requests to call for a doctor for the beaten teenagers were ignored. The boys had been held in the police station until 5 a.m. According to them, the policemen under the threat of violence coerced them to make statements that they had no complaints against the policemen. 

    Two under age boys were put in hospital. Parents of the victims reported the incident to the prosecution service and applied for help to human rights defenders. The INGO Committee Against Torture, Interregional Organization Mothers for the Protection of Rights of Suspects, Prisoners and Convicts (Krasnodar), Yoshkar-Ola City Human Rights NGO “Man and Law” and the Public Verdict Foundation (Moscow) created a combined mobile group that had carried out a public investigation into the incident in the camp. The materials of the public investigation were then subjoined the materials of the official investigation carried out by the Krasnodar regional prosecutor’s office.

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