“Well, no matter, it happens”. The European Court will examine a complaint on human rights’ defender torture at the Moscow City Court


10 April 2020

Today, on 10 April 2020, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with a complaint in the interests of human rights defender Igor Nagavkin: according to him, in 2017 the convoy at the Moscow City Court forced him to strip naked for search after which he was beaten up and threatened with sexual violence. In the course of two years of the check, the investigators of the Investigative Committee never opened a criminal case, having issued ten illegal refusals on this count.

In December 2017, human rights defender Igor Nagavkin applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. He told that on 14 December 2017, in the personal search room of the Moscow City Court the convoy officers demanded that he stripped naked, after that they handcuffed his hands behind his back and started to beat him up threatening him with sexual violence using rubber truncheon and a bottle.

“In total the battery lasted for about 15-20 minutes… Since I was turned with my head to the wall, someone hit the back of my head against the wall no less than 10 times… The convoy officers tried to beat me up without leaving traces, and they gave me bruises and black eyes by accident… The most painful was the kick in the heart area, I still have pain in my ribs up to this day (this explanation was obtained on 20 December 2017 – comment by the author)”, – Igor reported.

According to Nagavkin, after the battery they allowed him to put on his clothes and handcuffed him to the radiator. In about half an hour he was moved to another box where was alone. In one and a half hours he was taken to the court hearing room where he met other defendants on his criminal case and informed him about what happened.

According to Igor, he tried to inform the court about the battery in the personal search room, but the judge responded: “Well, no matter, it happens”, after that he removed Igor from the court room. Other participants in the trial: the prosecutor, investigator and the lawyer, (on that day Igor had a state-assigned lawyer instead of a lawyer under agreement) – did not reacted to his battery statement, either.

On the same day, the following bodily injuries were registered on Nagavkin in the Investigative Cell: “Reddening in the forehead area on the right, in the area of the right shoulder joint, left half of the rib cage. Bruise in the area of the left thigh joint. Bruise in the area of both wrists. Bruises of right and left feet, left knee joint”.

While in the Investigative Cell, Igor Nagavkin submitted an application with regard to what happened to the Investigative Committee.
In March 2018, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture also submitted a crime report to the Investigative Committee with regard to the fact of applying violence against Igor Nagavkin. For two years of the pre-investigative check the investigators issued ten rulings refusing to initiate criminal proceedings, which were subsequently declared illegal.

On 3 March 2020, Oksana Manannikova issued the eleventh refusal, which will be shortly also appealed against by human rights defenders.

Due to the fact that so far it has been not possible to achieve effective investigation of Igor Nagavkin’s battery complaint, today the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture were forced to submit an application on his behalf to the European Court of Human Rights. Human rights defenders think that the 3rd Article of the European Convention on Human Rights was violated with regard to Igor Nagavkin, which guarantees the prohibition of torture and the right to effective investigation.

“How can we talk about an effective check of Igor Nagavkin’s complaint about tortures at the Moscow City Court if the investigators are ignoring even the orders of their superiors on executing specific checking activities, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Adam Torosyan comments. – Apart from that, the investigators did not seize the records of the surveillance cameras at the Moscow City Court, despite the fact that Nagavkin applied to the Investigative Committee immediately after the incident, the Investigative Committee did not question the witnesses and the medics, did not assign a medical forensic expert examination which might remove the contradictions between Nagavkin’s testimony and the convoy officers’. Despite all this, we will continue to insist that the Russian authorities do their job properly and initiate criminal proceedings with regard to Igor Nagavkin’s application”.

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