On the 17th of October 2007 at 10 a.m. in Lazarevskoe district court of Sochi the first trial of the criminal case against eight Sochi Special Police Forces officers starts. The policemen are charged with assault and battery of people who were having their vacation in children’s camp “Druzhba”. As a result of Sochi SPF officers’ actions a lot of civilians, including some minors, were abused. 29 people were acknowledged victims. The police officers are charged in accordance with article 286 of the RF Criminal Code (excess of powers with violent treatment and special tools application). Detention in custody was selected as a measure of restraint for 7 police officers, one was released upon a written undertaking not to leave the place.
Two prior hearings were postponed due to the unjustified default of appearance of defense attorneys. Nikolay Shakhovalov, lawyer of the victims, who with the support of the “Public Verdict” Foundation and the Multiregional NGO Committee against Torture represents the victims’ interests in court submitted a motion for bringing the defense attorneys who did not report the reasons for their absence to disciplinary responsibility.
During the night of July 18-19th 2006 several dozens of Sochi SPF officers arrived in police buses at Lower Makopse village where camp “Druzhba” is situated. They started checking on all men and teenagers. They used physical strength, electric shock devices and bamboo sticks. Some of the police officers had automatic guns, as victims say.
Most of the people were detained in a café at the seaside. Young men were kicked out of the café over the fence and placed on the beach facedown. When all young men were lying like that the SPF officers asked them “Who beat up our guys?”. When they got no answer they asked “Who is from Rostov?”. According to the victims’ testimonies the policemen hit everyone who raised hands with bamboo sticks and used electric shockers.
The SPF’s visit was connected with an incident that took place two days before as it turned out. Two policemen who were not on duty that day got involved into a “drunken” fight with café customers. When the fight was over the policemen promised using vulgar language to come back and take their revenge on the offenders.
After the battery people captured in the café were led into the bus and taken to the Police department of Lazarevskoe district. Café customers, passers-by, parents of the detained who came when they heard the cries of their children and village inhabitants witnessed the process. The parents followed the police bus in their own cars. Their request to call for a doctor for the injured people was dismissed at the police call centre. Teenagers were kept at the police station till 5 a.m. The victims state that they were forced to write a paper that they had no claims against SPF officers in connection with their actions.
The victims’ parents turned for help to human rights organizations. The NGO “Mothers protecting the rights of the detained and prisoners” (Krasnodar), the Committee against Torture, “Man and Law” (Ioshkar-Ola)” and the “Public Verdict” Foundation (Moscow) formed a mobile task force that conducted a public investigation of the crime; the materials they prepared were attached to the investigation documents collected by the Prosecutor’s office of Krasnodar.