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There is still no defendant in torture case of Albert Khamkhoev from Ingushetia

News

19 April 2019
Suspect Andrey Ovada, photo: vk.com

The investigators, investigating a case of tortures of Albert Khamkhoev from Ingushetia, for a half a year already have been unable to charge the only suspect – officer of Counter Extremism Center Andrey Ovada. In the last ruling on suspending the criminal case, investigator Isa Malsagov indicated that the republican Counter Extremism Center failed to ensure the suspect’s appearance, as he was on vacation.

As we have previously reported, in December 2017, Aza Khamkhoeva from Yandare settlement in Ingushetia applied to the Committee Against Torture. She reported that on 14 November 2017 at about 3 p.m. several masked people in black and camouflage uniform, armed with automatic rifles, stormed the apartment where she lived. Three persons in civilian clothes armed with pistols accompanied them. According to Aza, unidentified masked people captured her son Albert Khamkhoev, tied his hands up, made him stand against the wall and put a pistol in his hand, after that they put the pistol in this belt.

“After that they brought Albert to the yard and again made him stand against the wall, took out the magazine from the pistol (where two cartridges were left) and made him lay on the ground. The put these actions on record in the presence of two attesting witness, who came together with the armed masked men. Then the masked people together with the people in civilian clothes performed a search of our household. The search itself lasted for about two hours. Nothing illegal was found, and it made an impression that this was done in order to compliance with formalities”, – Aza Khamkhoeva described.

Further developments were described by Albert Khamkhoev to defense lawyer Aleksandr Karavaev, provided by the Committee Against Torture: “I was put into Priora, there were five men inside together with me. Right away they put a black plastic bag on me, braided it with Scotch tape and were beating him up all the way non-stop without explaining the reasons, poked a barrel of a machine gun at him. After that I was taken to some building (as I was, in a plastic bag and handcuffed). They brought me to the second floor, put me on my knees and continued to beat me up. They were beating me up with a plastic bottle filled with water. Then they put some pins on my fingers and started to electrocute me so that I passed out a couple of times. They took the wires off my fingers, attached them in the area of the earlap, and electrocuted me again”.

According to Albert, after the tortures he was taken out of the building and one of the law-enforcement officers told him that they were in the Center for counteraction of extremist activity of the Republic of Ingushetia. Albert also explained to the defense lawyer that the firearm that was seized from him was received from illegal armed groups.

A criminal case was initiated with regard to Albert Khamkhoev under part 1 Article 222 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“illegal purchase, transfer, sales, weapons transportation or bearing, or its main parts, as well as ammunition”). On 16 November 2017, he was taken in custody for two months.

Subsequently, on 10 September 2018, Albert Khamkhoev was sentenced by the Nazran District Court of Ingushetia to one and a half years of conditional prison term. On 13 November 2013, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia changed this verdict and inflicted a penalty for the same time period, having established that the term of sentence should be regarded as served taking into account the time spent in the Pre-Trial Detention Facility and under arrest.

“On 17 November, at about eight in the evening I was taken from Temporary Detention Facility to the FSB building in Magas. In that building I was again tortured with electricity”, – Albert Khamkhoev comments.

On 21 November 2017, human-rights ombudsman of the Republic of Ingushetia Djambulat Ozdoev visited Albert at the Pre-Trial Detention Center of Karabulak. The ombudsman confirmed that he saw numerous signs of physical violence on Khamkhoev’s body.

Due to Albert’s complaint about torture, on 22 January 2018, investigator of the Nazran Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Republic of Ingushetia Gandaloev passed a ruling on initiating a criminal case against unidentified police officers regarding the crime under item “a” Part 3 Article 286 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“abuse of office with the use of violence”).

On 6 June 2018, the first suspect appeared in the case – Andrey Ovada, officer of the regional counter-extremism center, who was the senior investigative officer at the time when the crime was committed.

Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the Minister of the Interior for the Republic of Ingushetia with a request to suspend the suspect from service for the period of investigation. Human rights defenders received a response stating that the authority for suspending from service is the right of the superiors of the suspected police officer, but not the duty, so this request was dismissed.  

Since the criminal case was opened the investigation was suspended six times, and each time the investigators pointed out there was no real possibility for suspect Ovada participation in the criminal case.

“Last time new investigator of the case Isa Malsagov suspended the investigation on the same grounds on 27 February 2019, having mentioned in the ruling that the republican Counter Extremism Center failed to ensure the appearance of the suspect, as the latter was on vacation, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Magomed Alamov, representing Albert Khamkhoev's interests, comments. – We appealed against this ruling at the Magassky District Court of the Republic of Ingushetia, and yesterday, during the examination of this complaint it has become known that investigator Malsagov’s ruling on suspending the criminal case, which was being appealed against, was quashed by his superior as illegal on 16 April. The investigation has been resumed, a new investigator will be in charge”.