In the end of 2016, Novaya Gazeta wrote about applying tortures to apprehended Vener Mardamshin at police center No.6 of Neftekamsk. At that time, local Criminal Investigations officers celebrated the Day of Police on a large scale — they tied up a man in the street, brought him to the police department, where he was tortured with electrical shocker, in tied up state, when he was being forced to confess of kidnapping. According to Mardamshin, an acquaintance of his helped him to get home. Vener’s wife called an ambulance and the man was taken to the Neftekamsk hospital. When he recovered himself, Vener submitted a complaint about what happened. In a month, the Neftekamsky Interdistrict Investigative Department opened a criminal case under Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office with the use of violence and special equipment”). In return, Mardamshin is once again detained on suspicion of abduction, the confession about which he was being forced to produce not so long time before, and, by the ruling of the Neftekamsky court, he is sent to the Pre-Trial Detention Facility for the period of the investigation. After these events became high-profile in the mass media, the lawyers appealed against the ruling, and, on 29 December 2016, by the ruling of the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan, Vener is released from the Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Two days before that, one of the participants of the 10 November events – Criminal Investigations Head Ilvir Sagitov — is detained on torture charges.
After almost three years none of the cases are completed. The case against Mardamshin, who is still considered a defendant, which is covered by the net of controversial evidence, has not yet reached the Prosecutor’s Office.
As to the case against the police officers, the Neftekamsky court refused to do it altogether.
Back in the end of 2016, the Neftekamsky Department of the Investigative Committee was dealing with investigation of the case on applying violence by law-enforcement officers. But the dynamics of this process did not correspond to the speed with which the public outrage spread not only in the city and its vicinity, but also beyond the boundaries of the Republic. In such rapidly developing situation the case was transferred to the Central Office of the Investigative Committee of Bashkortostan, and starting from this moment Vener is under the state protection (by the way, the case on abduction is also removed from the Neftekamsky Department of the Interior and transferred to the same Central Office for more objective investigation). The first suspect is detained. However, it is the local Neftekamsky City Court that examines the issue of taking him into custody for the period of investigation. And the court leaves Sagitov at large. However, it’s not for long – in January, after the appeal, the Supreme Court of the Republic quashes the ruling of the Neftekamsk colleagues, sending the suspect to the Pre-Trial Detention Facility. In July, a new person becomes involved in the case — he is Sagitov’s subordinate, Senior Investigative Officer Radim Khayrullin (by the way, the investigation featured some other police officers, who participated in the incident happened on 10 November 2016, but they were severed). They are charged, the documents are transferred to the court – once again, it is the Neftekamsky Court.
In parallel, the story with the case against Mardamshin develops, and it is closely connected with the progress of the case against the police officers. When the investigation of the Central Office against the police officers is developing, the investigative activities of the Neftekamsky Investigative Committee on abduction case are carried out, too. As we have previously reported, the abduction was committed in 2015, and in 2017 some interesting evidence appeared in the case. For example, at the crime scene, near the victim’s garage, a cigarette butt appears. The expert examination is positive that it is Mardamshin’s, but the cigarette manufacturer points out that the cigarettes with such type of filter were shipped from the manufacturer on 12 November 2015, i.e., on the day of the crime which Vener is accused of. It is highly unlikely that the cigarettes batch could arrive on the same day to Neftekamsk shops. Also, a hair is found in the victim’s car, and this hair, naturally, belongs to Mardamshin. But a thorough expert examination indicates that this hair did not fall from his head, but was cut – according to Mardamshin, on the same day when he was tortured. As a conclusion to the evaluation of the newly found evidence, the protocol features the signature of one of the attesting witnesses – at the present time it is the wife of Radim Khairullin who is charged with applying violence.
During all this time, Vener Mardamshin, who moved to Ufa with his family, but had to attend the investigative activities of both the cases, kept receiving friendly proposals as well as openly thuggish threats with demands to adjust his testimony.
In November, a trial of two Criminal Investigations officers starts. They are accused of applying violence against Mardamshin. This trial will last for 15 hearings and seven months.
“As a whole, we treated this trial rather skeptically, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of Mardamshin, Evgeny Litvinov, explains, — the majority of our motions and challenges were dismissed. But still, we hoped for the best and believed we’ll succeed, all the more so, since we had more than enough of evidence. But the resulting ruling of the court came as a shock”.
The State Prosecutor insisted on six years’ jail time for Sagitov, four and a half years for Khayrullin. But judge of the Neftekamsky City Court Ibragim Dautov acknowledges that violence was applied against Vener, but he does not consider that the police officers’ guilt is proven. After three months of waiting and an appeal, the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan quashes Dautov’s judgment of acquittal and sends the case for review to the other Neftekamsk judge.
And here the local judges start to improvise. On 12 October, the request from Acting Chairman of the Neftekamsky City Court is submitted to the Supreme Court of the Republic, asking to transfer the case to the other court. As it is pointed out in the document, “the police officers were constantly interacting with judges of the Neftekamsky City Court on the work issues”, and the repeated examination of the case may “cast discredit on impartiality and objectivity of actions of any of the judges of the Neftekamsky City Court” and “may become the reason for submitting challenges against the presiding judge on grounds of direct, personal and other motivation in the result of the criminal case”.
“It has to be pointed out that the defendants and their lawyers considered that there were no grounds for transfer of their case, — Evgeny Litvinov continues. — In our opinion, they are obvious — three rulings passed by the Neftekamsky Court — in favor of the police officers (taking Mardamshin into custody for the time of the investigation of the case on abduction, refusing to take Sagitov into custody and the judgement of acquittal with regards to the investigative officers) – later on they were quashed by the superior authority”.
After examining the request, the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan agreed to the arguments of the colleagues from Neftekamsk, who actually demonstrated their subjectivity and partiality.
During the period of judicial twists and turns, the case of abduction calmed down. Several times it was suspended, resumed once again, in fact, for two years it was simply on the shelf of the Investigative Committee. All this time Mardamshin is still in the status of a defendant, although without pre-trial restraint applied. After the judgement of acquittal was declared, the police officers involved in the torture case, are under travel restrictions, Sagitov resigned and retired, Khayrullin is formally on duty, although he was suspended for the time of the investigation.
Since the beginning of February, the Yanaulsky District Court starts repeated examination of the case regarding Sagitov and Khayrullin’s actions. At best, the verdict may be passed in October.
After two years of silence, in summer, after one of the trials of the police officers, Mardamshin was warned that soon he would receive the indictment for his case. That is what happened, the investigation of the case is over. And there are some new circumstances there. The main alibi of Vener — the fact that when the crime was committed he was in Udmurtia, which is confirmed by the telephone billings and 8 witnesses — is questioned. The expert considered that the signal of the phone located in 40 km from Neftekamsk, might have been received by the city antennas, as well. Before the case gets to court, it should pass the check with the Prosecutor’s Office, but there has been no information that it was sent there at all. “They are waiting to see the result of the case against the police officers, — Vener Mardamshin himself draws a parallel. — Depending on what the verdict will be, the stance that should be taken with regard to myself will became clear. If the verdict is soft or absolvent, it means that the police officers (or some unidentified persons at the police department in the night of 10 November) did everything right, by violently forcing the criminal to confess when investigating the case. Only who needs the results of such investigation after all this dirt?”.