Two Russians, beaten up by police whilst in custody, have been awarded more than €50,000 by human rights judges.
The case was brought by applicants Dmitriy Golubyatnikov and Sergey Zhuchkov. They alleged that they had been ill-treated in police custody in order to force them into confessing to inflicting serious head injuries on a girl who later died.
Yesterday, in the complaint Golubyatnikov and Zhuchkov v. Russia (nos. 49869/06 and 44822/06), the European Court of Human Rights found:
Violation of Article 5 § 1 - in respect of Zhuchkov
Violation of Article 3 ill-treatment
Violation of Article 3 (investigation)
Violation of Article 6 § 1
Just satisfaction: 25,000 euros (EUR), each, to Golubyatnikov and Zhuchkov for non-pecuniary damage; EUR 142 to Golubyatnikov and EUR 313 to Zhuchkov for costs and expenses.
Both men alleged that they were arrested in January 2005, beaten by the police with rubber truncheons and had gas masks placed over their heads to block their access to air.
Golubyatnikov says that he refused to confess and on the same day as his arrest was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with multiple injuries, including fractured ribs. Mr Zhuchkov says that he ended up confessing and incriminating himself and the first applicant after two days of ill-treatment and out of fear for his life.
He subsequently retracted his confession, and maintained that position at trial, pleading not guilty, as did the first applicant.
Pre-investigation inquiries have repeatedly been carried out into the applicants’ complaints of police brutality.
However, the prosecuting authorities have refused to institute criminal proceedings, most recently in 2016, in respect of both applicants.
The courts relied, among other evidence, on Zhuchkov’s confession to convict the applicants in August 2005 of causing grievous bodily harm leading to death.
Golubyatnikov was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and Zhuchkov to nine years’ imprisonment. In those proceedings, the courts dismissed the applicants’ allegations of ill-treatment as unfounded, relying on the refusals to institute criminal proceedings against the police officers.
Zhuchkov’s allegation of unlawful detention was dismissed for the same reason.
Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), both applicants complained that they had been subjected to police ill-treatment and that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into their allegations.
They both further complained under Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) that their convictions had been unfair because they had been based on evidence which Zhuchkov had been coerced into giving. Zhuchkov made another complaint, alleging under Article 5 § 1 (c) (right to liberty and security) that he had been detained for over a day before his arrest had been officially recorded.