Today, on 18 May 2020, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with an application on behalf of Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov, who were beaten up at the police department in 2012, threatened with rape, and as a result, forced to sign confessions of a crime they never committed. In 2016, six police officers, including the department superiors, were declared guilty of this crime, but sentenced to conditional term. Russian courts estimated the sufferings of the victims at five thousand rubles.
As we have previously reported, on March 27, 2012 the Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture received applications from Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov alleging they were subjected to unlawful violence by the police officers of Police Department no. 1 of Nizhny Novgorod Department of Interior.
As it was later established by the court and mentioned in the indictment, in the evening of 2 March 2012 six police officers headed by the district police department Criminal Investigations superior stormed the summer cottage where the Gasanov family dwelled. The police officers seized all the mobile phones and documents, all the young people who were in the house, were apprehended. There the detained were forced to stand in the corridor for the whole night, they were not allowed to sit, and only once they were let to visit the lavatory.
During this time Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov were tortured in different rooms. The police officers hit and kicked Nizami, put a plastic bag on his head, threatened him with rape.
“You’ll die like a dog”, – the police officers promised to the detained.
Elshan was also beaten up, threatened with rape, humiliated with regard to his ethnic origin and was called a “bent copper” – shortly before the incident Zamanov worked as a police officer himself.
“Now we will rape you and send the video to prison," – that was the threat by the head of Criminal Investigations”, – Elshan Zamanov recalled.
After such “treatment” they both confessed of being involved in car thefts, which was the police officers’ objective, however, on 18 May 2012 the criminal prosecution against Gasanov and Zamanov was dismissed due to their noninvolvement in the charged crimes.
It took over two and a half years for the Investigative Committee investigators to bring the torture case to trial. From the very beginning of the investigation, the defendants took active actions to defend themselves and hamper the investigation progress, using various information and administrative capabilities.
The defendants’ trial took another year and a half – over sixty hearings were conducted, the materials of forty-four volumes were examined, over fifty witnesses were questioned.
On 18 April 2016 the court declared all the defendants guilty of committing the crime under item 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“abuse of office using violence”). Former Deputy Head of Police Department No.1 Vladimir Samsonov and former head of Criminal Investigation Sergey Alimov were convicted to 4 years and 6 months of conditional term, former head of department for property crimes Ivan Vechkanov – to 3 years and 8 months of conditional term, former senior officer of the criminal investigation department Sergey Nikolaev and former Deputy Head of Criminal Investigation Andrey Balandin – to 3 years and 6 months of conditional prison term; former officer of the property crimes department Evgeny Telenkov – to 3 years and 3 months of conditional term.
The parties of the trial did not agree with this verdict and appealed against it at the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court: the convicts and their lawyers intended to demand absolution, and the state prosecutor and the victims, in their turn, insisted that the court sentence of the police officers involved real jail time.
However, on 8 November of the same year a judicial panel comprising of three judges of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court upheld the judgment of conviction without significant changes, having decreased the probation periods for the convicts by half a year.
In November 2017, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court with a lawsuit demanding a compensation of moral damage inflicted by the crime of the ex-police officers from the Ministry of the Interior, amounting to one million rubles to Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov, each.
On 24 April 2018, judge of the Nizhny Novgorod District Court Mariya Koteeva partially satisfied the claims on the lawsuit, having evaluated the amount of sufferings of each victim at three thousand rubles. Human rights defendants appealed against this ruling of the court in the part of the amount of the awarded compensation.
On 26 March 2019, the judicial panel of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court chaired by Elena Kutyreva quashed the ruling of the court of the first instance and passed a ruling to collect not three but five thousand rubles from the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for the benefit of Nizami Gasanov and Elshan Zamanov, each.
Attempts to increase the amount of the awarded compensation in two courts of cassation failed, as well.
Due to the fact that only meagre were compensations awarded to Gasanov and Zamanov, they still retain the status of victims and the state has not fully compensated the violations of the victims’ rights. With regard to this, today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights on their behalf.
“The presence of the verdict concerning the officials who applied brutal treatment does not mean that the state completely fulfilled their obligations on restoring the violated rights of the citizen, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Maria Zadorozhnaya comments. – Unfortunately, in our country those who suffered from illegal violence by law-enforcement officers often cannot receive an adequate compensation of moral damage for inflicted suffering, as it happened in our case. That is why we applied such mechanism of restoring the violated rights as the European Court of Human Rights”.