24 October 2007

October 24, 2007, Sochi (Krasnodarskiy Kray). Victims and witnesses were questioned during the court hearing of the case of eight Special Police Forces officers accused of assailing children’s camp Druzhba. The court rejected the defense motion to free indictees Zubenko, Pimenov, Korolev and Ozhgikhin from custody and substitute this measure of restraint for a written pledge not to leave town. The prosecutor read the bill of indictment, after that all the accused – Pruidze, zubenko, Pimenov, Korolev, Ozhgikhin, Zabeivorota, Ezerskiy and Petrenko pled not guilty.

The court interrogated one of the victims who stated that police officer Petrenko hit him on the face. The complainant told the policeman that he was not yet 18, but no one listened to him and the battery went on. The victim saw that police officer Pimenov battered complainant Melkonyan and hit victim Serdyuk with an electric shocker, after that the latter lost consciousness.

The mother of one of the victims told the court that when her husband asked the police what was going on, one of the police officers told him that it was an “act of retaliation”.  According to her words, officer Pimenov hit people with a stick when they put them on the bus. The woman saw that seven police officers hit victim Serdyuk with clubs till he fainted.

According to the witnesses’ testimonies the police did not allow emergency doctors who were summoned by victims’ parents enter the territory of the camp.

Earlier on October 10, Krasnodar regional court cancelled the previous measure of restraint and freed three of the accused from custody (sniper specialist Alexey Petrenko, sniper specialist Alexander Ezerskiy, driver Vladimir Zabeivorota). On the 17th of October, two hours before the hearing began, the accused were let out of the detention centre. The court did not select a new measure of restraint, this means that Petrenko, Ezerskiy and Zabeivorota can legally change their place of residence.

The victims submitted a claim to Krasnodar regional court  where they drew the court’s attention to the fact that three SPF officers accused of grave offense were discharged from custody and  a even such a measure of restraint as a pledge not to leave town.

The court ruling says that “(discharge of Petrenko, Zabeivorota and Ezerskiy from custody) does not give the accused the possibility to press the witnesses and victims”, however, already in course of face-to-face confrontation police officer Petrenko intimidated the victim in the presence of an investigator and promised to “unscramble” everything when he was freed. Thus, the complaint states that reasoning of the board is inconsistent, and its decision gives Mr.Petrenko a chance to implement his threats.

The injured party underlines the fact that police officer Ezerskiy who was freed from custody is accused of two crimes under part 3 of article 286 of the RF Criminal Code (December 2004 and July 2007), this means that there is a repeated relapse into grave crime.

The claim also states that according to investigation documents police officer Zabeivoroya was the first to come up to Mr. N.Y.Serdyuk, security guard of “Druzhba”, and hit him, after that the battery began. All of the three released officers deny their guilt and do not show repentance. Moreover, neither the Regional Police Department nor the defendants apologized to the victims for the events.

The decision of the Keasnodar regional court board to free Petrenko, Ezerskiy and Zabeivorota poses a threat to the victims’ and witnesses’ life and health. The tangibility of this threat is proven by investigation materials and the bill of particulars that clearly show what these “people with good conduct certificates, serving under the Ministry of Home Affairs, with no previous convictions” can do.

Nikolay Shakhovalov, victims’ lawyer, who represents the injured party with the assistance of the “Public Verdict” Foundation and the Committee against Torture, said that they were going to lodge a complaint against the decision to free the accused.

We would like to remind you that policemen are accused of assaulting people on vacation in children’s camp “Druzhba”. As a result of SPF officers’ actions a lot of people were injured, including several minors. Among the victims there are 29 people. The policemen face the charge under article 286 of the RF CC (of powers with violent treatment and special tools application). You can read more about this case at the “Public Verdict” Foundation web-site http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/cases/druzhba.html and at the site of the Multiregional NGO “Committee against Torture”:
The case of mass battery of Sochi citizens by SPF officers is taken to court
The Committee against Torture sent an open letter to the Prosecutor-General of the RF.

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