European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Russia: Court awards €45,000 to police electro-shock torture victim

Judges have accepted that Russian police used electro torture to extract a confession from a prisoner convicted of murdering 12 people.

As just satisfaction in the complaint Mukayev v. Russia (no. 22495/08), human rights judges awarded EUR 45,500 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 4,500 (costs and expenses) to the applicant Arsan Mukayev yesterday. He is a Russian national, born in 1977 and currently serving a life prison sentence for, among other things, murdering 12 people.

The case concerned his allegation that he had been tortured by the police and that he had been convicted on the basis of statements he had made under duress.

Extradited from Kazakhstan to Russia on 23 February 2006, Mukayev was immediately taken to a remand prison in Moscow where he was handed over to Chechen investigators and police officers for his transfer to Grozny.

He alleges that he was punched, kicked and beaten with rifle butts on the journey from Moscow to Grozny, then, when handed over to the police authorities in Grozny late the same evening, was tortured with electric shocks throughout the night and the following day to pressure him into admitting to a number of serious crimes.

He eventually signed a confession on 25 February 2006. Mukayev submits that the torture continued over the following days at the police station and that, even when he had been transferred to a remand prison on 6 March 2006, he was sometimes returned to the police station for further beatings and electrocutions so that he would not complain about his ill-treatment and would memorise the crimes he had allegedly committed.

Mukayev complained to the prosecuting authorities in March 2006 about the ill-treatment. The investigating authorities took six decisions refusing to open a criminal investigation due to lack of evidence.

These decisions were repeatedly set aside by the supervising authorities as unsubstantiated, unlawful or based on an incomplete inquiry.

In June 2007, Mukayev lodged a judicial appeal against the refusal to investigate his allegations.

In October 2007 the district court upheld his complaint in full, recognising that he had been subjected to physical violence between February and March 2006 and that the refusal to institute criminal proceedings was unlawful. The court ordered further verifications.

However, in March 2008 an investigator again ruled against instituting criminal proceedings against the police officers.

Mukayev thus lodged another judicial appeal, which was subsequently dismissed as unsubstantiated. This decision was then upheld by the Chechnya Supreme Court in August 2008.

In the meantime, in May 2007, Mukayev was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The trial court based its ruling, among other things, on his confession. The sentence was upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which also stated that unlawful methods of investigation against Mukayev had not been confirmed.

Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mukayev alleged that he had been subjected to ill-treatment by the police and that no effective investigation had been carried out into his complaints.

Further relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial), he made two complaints about the unfairness of the criminal proceedings against him: first, he alleged that his conviction had not been fair as the domestic courts had relied on a confession he had only given under duress; and, second, that he had not been able to defend himself with a lawyer of his choosing, and that this lawyer had not provided him with proper legal assistance.

Violation of Article 3 (torture)
Violation of Article 3 (investigation)
Violation of Article 6 § 1

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