Today the Interregional Committee against Torture has learnt that the European Court has communicated the application of Dmitriy Ochelkov from Zavolzhye.
The story of Dmitriy Ochelkov is yet another example of how the state fails to perform its positive obligations to protect human rights and freedoms. In 2002-2003 Dmitriy was repeatedly tortured by the police of Zavolzhye and Balakhna. The police used its favourite “interrogation methods” – the so-called “one leg stand”, “envelop ties”, gas masks, electric shockers, beatings and threats. It should be mentioned that forensic medical experts have documented Dmitriy’s injuries.
The police resorted to a whole arsenal of tortures in order to speedily “solve” a series of crimes by forcing out confessions without bothering to investigate the circumstances. The prosecution bodies where Dmitriy and his representatives from the Committee against Torture had applied virtually stonewalled investigation of torture allegations for many years. Thus, in course of investigation, criminal proceedings started under Ochelkov’s application concerning Zavolzhye events were terminated 9 times, and there were 9 refusals to open a criminal case in connection to Balakhna events. Besides, the investigation authorities tried to account for Dmitriy’s injuries by means of ridiculous explanations beneath any criticism, for example, the authorities claimed that while talking to the investigator the young men had two times gone to the bathroom and hit his head against a bookshelf hanging on the wall above his chair.
The Committee against Torture claims that the state breached art. 3 (prohibition of torture), and art.13 (right to an effective investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. After failing to restore his rights on the domestic level, on 6 May 2005 Dmitriy Ochelkov applied to the European Court.
Three and a half years later the Court started working with Dmitriy’s complaint. The Strasbourg Court has prepared a detailed description of facts under Dmitriy’s case and notified the Russian Federation of the application and also asked the parties to make their statements in relation to alleged Convention violations. Now the respondent state is to prepare its response and, in particular, it has to explain whether Dmitriy was tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and whether the investigation was effective. The Russian Federation is to provide the Strasbourg Court with copies of all materials related to the official investigation under Ochelkov’s application.
European Court’s description of facts under Dmitriy Ochelkov’s case will soon be available in Russian on our web-page.