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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Russia Fined for Murder Suspect’s Police Torture

(CN) - Russia must pay for letting police torture a confession out of a murder suspect whom they shackled and dragged into a forest to brutalize, the European Court of Human Rights ruled.

Born in 1975, Vadim Valyayev is serving a 20-year sentence in Rybinsk for burglary and aggravated murder.

"According to his submissions, when in pre-trial custody on those charges, he was checked out on 31 July 2000 and, handcuffed with a canvas bag put over his head, taken by the police in a minibus to a forest where officers, for up to one hour, repeatedly kicked, punched and tried to strangle him as well as hit his heels with a wooden baton in order to make him confess to a murder," the Strasboug-based court said in a statement on Tuesday.

After being released from temporary detention four days later, a doctor diagnosed him with a head injury, possible concussion and bruises on the chest and foot.

Valyayev urged the prosecutor's office to start an investigation, but it formally declined before a report on the incident had been filed. The prosecutor refused a criminal probe again in February 2001 after Valyayev's cellmate corroborated the alleged incident.

In 2001, Valyayev was convicted and sentenced to prison. He brought his claims to the European Court of Human Rights in 2009.

Under international judicial scrutiny, Russian courts gave Valyayev's case a fresh review, and a district court ordered the prosecutor's office to investigate his case.

On Tuesday, a seven-judge panel European Court of Human Rights released a poison-pen Valentine's Day judgment blasting Russia for two violations of torture prohibitions.

"The court found it striking that the prosecutor's office, after commissioning the forensic examination, had not waited for the report, and had then decided to dispense with criminal proceedings without taking it into account," according to a statement from the court.

"Even more alarming was the fact that after its receipt the prosecutor's office had not included it in the inquiry file and had not informed Mr Valyayev of its content. Neither the Government nor the authorities acting in the domestic proceedings had offered any explanation for that omission."

The court also lamented that Valyayev had to wait so long for a response.

"In any event, eleven years had elapsed since Mr Valyayev had first brought his complaint of ill-treatment before the domestic authorities," according to the statement. "That length of time was unacceptable, considering that the case concerned a serious instance of police violence and thus would have required a swift reaction by the authorities."

Russia must pay Valyayev about $46,000 in nonpecuniary damages.

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