05 November 2007, Monday

Second Torture Case from Chechnya

On  8 November 2007, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will hand down judgement in the second case concerning torture in Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said today. The applicant in the case was subjected to torture in several detention centers, including in the infamous Chernokozovo detention center.

On 23 January 2000, servicemen from the Russian Ministry of the Interior detained Suleyman Medov and seven other men in the Staropromyslovsky district in the city of Grozny, Chechnya. The eight men were place in a pit in the ground near a military encampment where they were forced to spend the night. The soldiers at the encampment beat and kicked the detainees, threw rocks and poured cold water over them.

On 25 January, Medov was taken to the Chernokozovo detention centre. The guards of the detention centre, riot police (OMON) from the Rostov-on-Don region, forced the detainees to run through a corridor of soldiers who beat them with great force using rubber truncheons, rifle butts and wooden hammers. Medov was also beaten when he was in the shower and during several interrogations.

The Chernokozovo detention centre has been severely criticized by human rights organizations, including the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), for allegations of severe ill-treatment of detainees. In a 4 March 2000 statement to Russian officials, the CPT identified «a clear pattern of physical ill-treatment.» In July 2001, the Russian authorities' refusal to investigate the allegations of torture prompted the CPT to publish a public statement about torture in Chechnya. The CPT makes public statements only on rare occassions.

After almost a month at the Chernokozovo detention center, Medov was taken to detention centers in Mozdok, Pyatigorsk and Stavropol, where he was subjected to similar ill-treatment. Medov was finally released on 3 May 2000 and criminal proceedings against him were dropped, officially under a 1999 amnesty.

As a result of the torture, Medov sustained a broken nose and fractured ribs, as well as sever bruising. Upon Medov's release, a doctor from the international humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières confirmed several of these injuries.

Despite the strong evidence in the case, the Russian authorities have on several occasions refused to open a criminal investigation into the allegations.

The judgement in the case Medov v. Russia will be the second judgement concerning torture in Chechnya. On 18 January 2007, the ECHR held Russia responsible for the torture of the Chitayev brothers in the case Chitayev and Chitayev v. Russia. The Chitayev brothers were also detained and tortured in the Chernokozovo detention center.

In January and February 2000, Russian military servicemen committed numerous human rights violations in the Staropromyslovsky district of the city of Grozny, the place where Medov was detained. The ECHR has handed down four judgments concerning these events, holding Russia responsible for extra-judicial executions.

Medov was assisted in bringing his application to the ECHR by Maxim Ferschtman a practicing lawyer in the Netherlands, currently with the Open Society Justice Initiative and by Russian Justice Initiative.

On 15 November 2007, the ECHR will also hand down judgement in the case Khamila Isayeva v. Russia concerning the 2001 illegal detention and disappearance of Isayeva's husband.

For more information:

In Moscow, Russia: Ole Solvang, +7  905 527 5978
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

See also:

RJI: Summaries of Cases Pending Before the ECHR

Admissibility: Medov v. Russia
HRW: Welcome to Hell (Medov is referred to as «Aslanbek Digayev»)
CPT: Public Statement of 2001
CPT: Public Statement of 2003


<<< All News