Violent three-day beating of a prisoner by police in order for him to confess! Conviction for torture

JUDGMENT

Χ. and Υ. v. Russia 22.09.2020 (app. no. 43411/06)

see here

SUMMARY

Unjustified violence by police officers. Prohibition of torture and illegal detention.

The first applicant was arrested at night while he was sleeping in the house of his mother and the second applicant. He was dragged to a local police station, beaten severely for at least 3 days and blackmailed into confessing to crimes he did not commit. The tortures he suffered left indelible wounds on his body. The 3-day detention of the tortured person was not officially recorded in the police file.

In the Court, in the light of the forensic reports, the first applicant’s allegations of serious injuries sustained by the police were found to be true. It also found that no effective investigation had been carried out by the national authorities and considered that there had been a violation of the substantive and procedural part of Article 3 of the ECHR.

As for his detention from May 24 to May 27, it found that the official police documents had been forged in order to “disappear” the detention for the 3 days he was subjected to torture. It considered that the national authorities did not conduct a lawful investigation to justify the detention. It therefore concluded that there had been a violation of Article 5 of the ECHR.

The Court awarded the first applicant EUR 50,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

PROVISIONS

Article 3,

Article 5

PRINCIPAL FACTS

The case concerns the first applicant’s allegations of his detention and subsequent ill-treatment by the police and the lack of an effective investigation into these matters.

The first and second applicants were born in 1981 and 1955 respectively.

The first applicant was currently living in the town of Karabalak in Ingushetia. The second applicant lived in the town of Grozny.

According to medical records, the first applicant was in good health. Nor had he sought medical help for the period from 2003 to 26 May 2004.

At 4 p.m. on 26 May 2004, while the first applicant was sleeping in the second applicant’s house in Grozny, a group of armed men stormed the house. They pushed him to the floor and hit him. The men then placed a black plastic bag over the first applicant’s head and drove him to the Leninskiy ROVD. During the journey to the detention center, the police interrogated the first applicant and beat him when he was not satisfied with his answers.

In Leninskiy ROVD the first applicant realized that the perpetrators of his arrest were police officers. Upon his arrival, he was taken to an office and handcuffed to a chair. During the ill-treatment, the officers ordered the first applicant to confess to committing certain offenses. When he refused, the torture continued.

When the officers left the office, Investigator D. stepped in and pushed the first applicant against the wall. The investigator said he was involved in various offenses and needed to help with the investigation. The first applicant replied that the police had arrested the wrong person, as he knew nothing about the offenses he was referring to. The officers then returned to the room and continued beating and insulting the first applicant.

At one point the first applicant resigned and signed his “deposition” as well as other documents dictated by the officers. The beatings did not stop. The officers asked the first applicant to memorize the details of each violation he had “confessed”. For every mistake in the narration he was beaten. The abuse continued until late at night, when there was a sudden power outage throughout the city of Grozny. The officers handcuffed the first applicant and left him in the room with a plastic bag over his head.

The first applicant was ill-treated for several days. One of these days he had a heart attack and the police called an ambulance.

On 14 July 2004 the second applicant was allowed to visit the first applicant. According to her, she could not recognize her son, as his whole body was covered with bruises and hematomas.

In September 2004, the first applicant was transferred to prison no. 20/1 in Grozny.

The first applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that after his arrest he had been tortured in order to confess to acts which he had not committed and that the national authorities had not conducted an effective investigation into the matter. Also, his arrest and the unregistered temporary detention from 4 p.m. on May 26, 2004 until 5:30 p.m. on 27 May 2004 was illegal.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT…

Article 3

It is not disputed between the parties that, prior to his arrest, the first applicant had no injuries to his body. Then, on June 4, 2004, a medical examiner found several bruises and abrasions on his body. The medical examiner argued that these injuries could be caused by the alleged ill-treatment by police officers. About five years later, in September 2009, doctors from the Center for Survival Torture noted a series of scars on various parts of the applicant’s body that were consistent with the applicant’s detailed description of police ill-treatment.

In view of the above, the Court considered that the first applicant’s injuries could undoubtedly have been caused by the violence he allegedly suffered at the hands of the police, who pressured him to confess the offenses. All of the above considerations were sufficient to substantiate the first applicant’s allegations and to convince the Court that his allegations of police violence were credible.

The Court also noted that the first applicant’s allegations of injuries as a result of police ill-treatment were rejected by the domestic investigating authorities. The latter based their findings on the results of the investigation, which is the initial stage of dealing with a criminal complaint under Russian law and should normally be followed by criminal prosecution and investigation. The information gathered revealed evidence of a criminal offense. The Court has already ruled that a simple pre-trial investigation is not sufficient if the authorities are to comply with the standards set out in Article 3 of the Convention to effectively investigate credible allegations of ill-treatment during police detention.

In the present case, the Court was not satisfied with the defective manner in which the investigation was conducted prior to the prosecution. Notes that the first denial of criminal prosecution was issued within two days of the complaint of the first applicant’s lawyer. He also notes that, as can be seen from the documents in his possession, the investigators failed to carry out key investigative steps such as examining key witnesses, the second applicant and the person who had provided medical assistance to the first applicant due to a back injury and an injury to the anterior abdominal wall.

The above factors were sufficient for the Court to conclude that the investigating authorities did not conduct an effective investigation as required by Article 3 of the Convention.

The Court observed that neither the Government nor the investigating authority explained the origin of the first applicant’s injuries. Consequently, the burden of proof borne by the government was not met.

The Court concludes that the police subjected the first applicant to torture. Consequently, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in accordance with its substantive and procedural aspects in relation to the first applicant.

Article 5

The Court notes that the Government did not submit copies of the Leninskiy ROVD diary or police statements which allegedly corroborated their claim. The Government ‘s assertion that the applicant was arrested on 27 May 2004 is therefore supported only by his arrest file. However, the credibility of this evidence is undermined by the conclusion of the Chechen Supreme Court of 30 March 2005, which, compared to other documents, proved to have been falsified. That finding was supported by the testimony of witnesses who stated that they were not present at the first applicant’s arrest. Although the Supreme Court’s decision had been overturned, the finding that the arrest file had been falsified was never disputed by the courts or the investigating authorities.

In that context, the Court accepted the applicants’ allegation of facts which were detailed, consistent and of which the investigating authorities were immediately informed.

The Court therefore found that the first applicant had been arrested on 4 May 2004 by police and was being held unlawfully in the Leninskiy ROVD until his arrest was officially recorded on 27 May 2004. His unregistered pre-trial detention left him at the mercy of the authorities. endangering his personal safety and making him vulnerable to abuse.

There has therefore been a violation of Article 5 of the Convention in relation to the first applicant.

Just satisfaction: The ECHR awarded the sum of  50.500 euro as non pecuniary damage and 2000 euro for costs and expenses.


ECHRCaseLaw

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