A person under investigation applied to the Public Monitoring Committee for human rights oversight in the places of detention for Nizhny Novgorod region (hereinafter – PMC) and informed about facts of brutal torture he was subjected to in Penal Colony No.14 (Nizhny Novgorod region, Sukhobezvodnoe settlement). Human rights defenders applied to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Investigative Committee, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia demanding to protect this individual from torture and conduct effective investigation of the reported facts. They also provided the victim with an advocate for defending his rights. However, despite the fact that the crime report was filed to Semenovsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region back on June 11, its head, Aleksey Yuzhin, thought fit to start necessary investigative actions only on June 19 and only after corresponding motions of the advocate. On June 23 Mr.Yuzhin extended the time period for pre-investigation enquiry of the crime report for 30 more days. Due to the fact that the applicant was in real danger the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) asking to grant interim measures with relation to it.
On June 10, 2014 members of PMC during their visit to Penal Colony no. 14 (FKU IK-11) of Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod region had a conversation with a person under investigation called M. (his name is not disclosed due to ethical reasons). In the course of the conversation M. told the human rights defenders that on 10 of April he was transferred from Penal Colony Investigative Isolator-1 to the pre-trial unit (premises functioning in the mode of investigative isolator, hereinafter – PFRSI), located on the territory of Penal Colony No.14. In his opinion it was done to “break” him – to obtain confession statements from him. At least, according to M., the police officer who was monitoring his case, threatened that in PFRSI IK-14 the uncooperative prisoner would confess everything.
In the course of conversation with the human rights defenders citizen M. described terrible facts of torture that befell him: at first the prisoners beat him, demanding that he should write confessionary statements, and when they failed they raped him with a truncheon (impact munition PR-73 which is used by law enforcement authorities). After that M. had to write the acknowledgement of guilt. According to his words, the prisoners who were torturing him, all this time were in telephone contact with the police officer, agreeing on this evidence and even editing the style of the narrative for more credibility.
According to the words of citizen M., he had to waive the right to counsel because of threats of the same police officer. He also said that on April 29 he thought fit to tell about what happened to the officer of the Nizhny Novgorod Ombudsman administration, but he didn’t have enough nerve to file a written application – after this oral complaint he was beaten again by the same prisoners who again turned to sexual abuse, recording the tortures on video.
On June 16 the members of PMC together with the Deputy of Sukhobezvodensky Prosecutor for Supervision of Penal Institutions Sergey Morozov again visited the person under investigation called M. and learned from him that after his complaints he again was subjected to torture. June 12: «when I was taken in from the walk, they put a dark bag on my head from behind. They started to strangle me and tie my legs and hands (from behind) with scotch tape. For some time a managed to pull off the bag from my head and saw three convicts in masks and one of the guards who was helping the convicts who attacked me to tie me up. Then they started to strangle me… Managed to strangle me with the bag and tape me up. Taped my arms and legs up with scotch and brought me to the prison yard. Kicked me down on the asphalt and started to pour cold water on me. Soaked me with cold water, tore off my clothes and at the same time were strangling me with that bag and also twisting my arms. For a long time they were pouring cold water on me from a hose, then inserted this hose up my rectum. After that they dragged me to the shower room, flung me to the ground and turned on warm water. I started to come to me senses, cleared my throat, caught my breath, but I still failed to stand up. I had the same condition once three years ago. They did not believe me, told me I was faking it. They dragged me on a bench and forced me to put on their dry clothes. I started to shiver, I could not stand up, I was shaking and choking, and my they twisted my arms. At some moment I passed out because of choking. They dragged me back to my senses using ammonia inhalant».
June 13: «two convicts wearing masks entered, holding my arms and legs they took me away back to the first cell, the isolator, tied up my legs, taped my arms up with scotch in front of me, stretched me again on a table, undressed me again, started to force me to write a document dropping my complaints. «Now we are going to f… you for it». And they started to insert a truncheon in my rectum with brutal force.
I was telling them «I’d rather you killed me, shot me while attempting to flee, I don’t know, strangled me, could say later it was a thromb. Why are you doing this, I don’t want to live after all this. I could not say a thing it hurt so much, I only mumbled… After they realized it was no use talking to me, since I did not have any sense because of pain, they untied me, I fell on the floor, they poured a bowl of cold water over my head to bring me to my senses. Forced me to wipe the blood which was coming out of my rectum using my pants».
Despite the fact that the PMC members lodged a crime report to Semenovsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region as early as on June 11, its head, Aleksey Yuzhin, started corresponding investigative actions only on June 19 and only after the advocate Evgeny Gubin, provided by the human rights defenders, joined in. Upon his motion the medical examination of the victim was conducted at a local hospital. Two days later, on June 21, citizen M., who reported on grave offences, was questioned at last, and the crime scene was examined.
In the course of conversation with the PMC members on June 18 the victim complained about the unlawful actions, by then – from the part of the administration officer: «today during the walkdown at 9.00 a.m. major entered my cell, threw everything on the floor, emptied out the drinking tank, hit me in the chest several times, then started to beat me with a pillow».
It should be noted that on June 20 during the scheduled visit of the human rights defenders Penal Colony administration officers tried to prevent them from taking photographs of recurrent injuries of the victim. The paramedic of the institution refused to familiarize the PMC members with injuries log. This was done only after prosecutor Sergey Morozov intervened. It was hardly surprising that initially paramedics did not want to show the log, since the injuries of citizen M. were not recorded there. According to advocate Evgeny Gubin, the same day the officers of IK-14 did not let him pass to his сlient, tried to search him, and on the top of all that – tried to obtain the copy of citizen M. questioning.
On June 23 the human rights defenders learned that the head of Semenovsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region Aleksey Yuzhin extended the time period for pre-investigation enquiry of the crime report for 30 more days.
«Despite obvious crime evidence the investigator for some vague reasons extends the time period for pre-investigation enquiry for a month, which is a great obstacle for normal investigation of the presented facts. For example, it is simply impossible to conduct a medical expertise that could give answers to many questions, before the criminal case is initiated, and in a month lots of injuries of the victim will be impossible to establish», – says Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, Deputy Chairman of PMC for Nizhny Novgorod region, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture. – Another important detail. PFRSI, i.e. premises functioning in the mode of investigative isolator, provides for complete, 100% isolation of the person under investigation from the convicts. On the territory of Penal Colony there is an area with a building, where the cells of punitive confinement (SHIZO), ward-type rooms (PKT), single-space ward-type facility (EPKT) and PFRSI are located. Even access to this area can be granted only by Penal Colony duty officer or by the management of the institution. Convicts and persons under investigation are kept in this building strictly in their cells. Any move around of convicts or persons under investigation requires an escort by Penal Colony officers. In spite of that, M. reports regular contacts with convicts who used violence against him. This could only have happened with simultaneous support of several executive officers of Penal Colony. In my opinion, the investigative authorities should have initiated criminal proceedings not only under the Article on sexual battery, but also under Articles providing criminal responsibility for crimes of officials».
Under the circumstances the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of a violation of Article 3 of Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and asked the Court to grant interim measures in its regard.
Deputy Chairman of Interregional NGO «The Committee Against Torture», the head of the International Protection Department Olga Sadovskaya: «Based on Rule 30 of ECHR procedure in exceptional circumstances the Court may demand from the member state of the Convention to take necessary measures for protection of health and safety of an applicant before his complaint is processed in Court. Usually it is related to situations when a person is sent out to some country where he could be tortured. Or it is a situation when he is permanently tortured, which may result in either death or suicide. We have some successful experience of applying to the ECHR asking to grant interim measures, and we are sure that in this case a favorable decision will be taken, too».
PMC for Nizhny Novgorod region