The ineffective criminal investigation into murder violated the right to life.

JUDGMENT

Αnoshina v. Russia 26-3-2019 ( no. 45013/05)

see here 

SUMMARY

The case concerned the murder of the applicant’s brother by a police officer while he was being held
in a sobering-up centre.

The Court held that the deprivation of life was unjustified and that the investigation into the crime,
which had lasted four years from 2002, had been ineffective. In particular, investigators had only
interviewed the main perpetrator in 2006. It also found that the compensation award at domestic
level, 3,400 euros (EUR), had been too low. It said that Russia had to pay the applicant EUR 36,600

PROVISIONS 

Article 2

Article 3

PRINCIPAL FACTS 

The applicant, Yelena Alekseyevna Anoshina, is a Russian national who was born in 1956 and lives in
Nizhniy Novgorod.

The applicant’s brother, Aleksandr Alekseyvich Anoshin, 51, was stopped by the police in July 2002
and was taken to a police sobering-up centre. He was left alone in a recovery room, but after an
hour he began to bang on the door and asked to be let out.

Officer M., who had just returned from patrol duty, pushed Mr Anoshin away from the door and told
him to calm down. Mr Anoshin fell on the bed and banged his head on the wall. He got up and
approached Officer M., who punched him five times and used a piece of wood from a broken chair
to throttle him. M. put Mr Anoshin on the bed and left him there. Mr Anoshin died of asphyxia.
The investigation opened by the prosecutor’s office lasted four years and involved six different
investigators. The sobering-up centre staff initially testified that they had found Mr Anoshin unwell
in bed, but later changed their story to say that he had hanged himself. Forensic reports indicated
that he had suffered a violent death and incriminated the centre staff.

Officer M. was interviewed for the first time only in March 2006. He was convicted of murder and
the violent abuse of power in August 2008 and was given a 14-year prison sentence. Two other
officers were charged with neglecting their duties, but those proceedings were ended as timebarred.
In May 2009 the Sovietskiy District Court awarded the applicant and three of Mr Anoshin’s children
150,000 Russian roubles (approximately EUR 3,400) for the emotional distress caused by the crime.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT

Article 2

Mr Anoshin’s murder

The Court first dealt with a request by the Government to strike out the applicant’s complaint about
the killing of her brother. The Government admitted that his right to life had been breached but
submitted that the State had resolved the matter by convicting the murderer and awarding
damages.

The Court was satisfied with the 14-year sentence given to Officer M., noting that it was just one
year short of the statutory maximum. It also noted that the two police officers whose prosecution
had become time-barred were not the main culprits. At the same time, the damages awarded to the
family were substantially lower than those it usually awarded: at least EUR 32,500.
The Court therefore rejected the Government’s strike-out request and found that there had been a
violation of Article 2 as the State had intentionally and unjustifiably deprived Mr Anoshin of his life.
Investigation

The Government requested that this complaint be struck out because the murderer had been
convicted, which had shown the effectiveness of the legal proceedings. However, the Court found
that the domestic compensation had had no link to shortcomings in the investigation and had
therefore not constituted redress. It therefore rejected the strike-out application.

The Court held that the investigation could not be described as independent, adequate, thorough,
objective, impartial, open or prompt, requirements set out in its case-law.

It noted that all the evidence had been available to the authorities as the crime had taken place in a
government institution. The forensic findings had undermined the version of events given by staff
and had implicated them. Despite a limited number of possible suspects, investigators had not
interviewed the main perpetrator until 2006, indeed up to then investigators had apparently not
been aware of his presence and that of his fellow officers at the scene.

The lead investigator had changed six times and the investigation had been stayed 13 times.
Furthermore, two key witnesses had admitted providing false testimony, approved by the local
police headquarters, but no charges had been brought over that incident. The investigation had
therefore been ineffective, leading to a further violation of Article 2.

Other articles

The Court rejected the applicant’s complaint under Article 3 as manifestly ill-founded.
It noted that there had to be special factors for it to find a separate violation of the Convention in
respect of relatives of people who had suffered a serious human rights violation.(echrcaselaw.com editing).


ECHRCaseLaw

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