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Russia: Court awards €45,000 to inmate after prison beating

An inmate’s ill-treatment whilst detained in a Russian prison, did amount to torture, human rights judges have ruled.

As just satisfaction, they awarded € 45,050 (non-pecuniary damage) to the applicant, Tseren Bambayev, after declaring on 7 November that Russia had breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case Bambayev v. Russia (no. 19816/09) concerned Bambayev’s allegations regarding the use of excessive force against him by officers in a correctional colony, in the village of Vakhtovo in the Republic of Kalmykia.

On 1 January 2009, some of the colony officers struck Bambayev several times with truncheons for refusing to submit to a body search.

The following day his mother lodged a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor, alleging that the force used against her son had been excessive and unjustified.

In the course of the preliminary investigation Bambayev underwent a forensic medical examination which confirmed the presence on several parts of his body of bruises and abrasions caused by blunt instruments.

The investigating authorities subsequently issued several decisions refusing to open a criminal investigation.

They based their decisions in substance on the version of events supplied by the officers, who claimed that the use of truncheons had been justified by Bambayev’s conduct.

In parallel proceedings the applicant brought a civil action seeking compensation for the non-pecuniary damage he had allegedly sustained. In October 2009 the court allowed his claims and awarded him 20,000 Russian roubles (approximately 450 euros (EUR)). That judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kalmykia.

In November 2013, after the government had been given notice of the application, the investigating authorities set aside the decision refusing to open a criminal investigation and ordered the reopening of a preliminary investigation.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), Bambayev alleged that during the incident on 1 January 2009, he had been subjected to ill-treatment which in his view amounted to torture. He also complained of the lack of an effective investigation in that regard.

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