Kabardino-Balkaria: Police Continue to Prosecute Victim of Torture with False Accusation

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Apr 26, 2012, 10:15:09 AM4/26/12
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Kabardino-Balkaria: Police Continue to Prosecute Victim of Torture with False Accusation

HRC “Memorial” sent a statement to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation

“Now I'm going to get a needle and infect you with AIDS”, is how a 'guardian of the law' threatened the kidnapped Inal Berov.  The police officers ordered him to confess to having taken part in a robbery.  Over the course of several hours, Berov was beaten, given electric shocks, and threatened with being shot.  This all took place in a building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.  After failing to achieve their aims, and evidently convinced of the innocence of the person they had kidnapped, the police officers released him.  At the same time they threatened Berov, saying that if he were to report his beating and torture, they would find a way to have him imprisoned.

However, I. Berov and his father submitted a complaint to the Investigative Committee and appealed to human rights organizations.

On April 10, 2012, a criminal case was opened into abuse of power with the use of violence, and Inal Berov was recognized as a victim in the case (see: decision on the recognition of Berov as a victim: http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/737.pdf and the victim's statement: http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/739.doc).

On April 20, threats from the police began appearing.  Berov was detained, questioned as a suspect and taken into custody.  It turned out that on the previous day, another person being held in investigative isolation ward, M. Sokhov, had testified  against him, accusing him of involvement in the robbery.

That same day, several officers, went to the Berov family home with witnesses, to conduct a search.  The police refused to allow any of the Berov family's neighbors to act as witnesses.  As a result of the search, the police announced that they had confiscated keys with a charm that supposedly came from the car which features in the robbery case.

However, by the next day, the accusation against the victim of police torture had begun to collapse.  In the course of investigations Sokhov admitted that he had falsely incriminated Berov.  In addition, he stated that he “could not give a reason for this false incrimination”.  However, it is not difficult to guess the reason – pressure from those who tortured Berov.

On April 22, Inal Berov's release from custody was announced (see: release order: http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/738.pdf).  In the mean time, he remains a suspect in the criminal case.

The Human Rights Center “Memorial” believes that in the case of Inal Berov, pressure was put on a victim of police brutality.  This is the way in which those who are used to using torture to extract confessions, to falsifying criminal cases and remaining wholly unpunished, attempt to hinder the investigation of criminal cases involving abuse of power.

The Human Rights Center “Memorial” sent a statement in relation to this to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, A.I. Bastirkin, with a request that they treat the investigation of criminal cases involving police officers with special care.

See below a detailed description of the case.

The Human Rights Center “Memorial” previously reported the abduction, in the city of Nalchik, of Inal Muradinovich Berov, born 1983.  The kidnappers took Berov to a building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, were police officers subjected him to torture. (http://memo.ru/hr/hotpoints/caucas1/msg/2012/03/m282903.htm)

Inal Berov works with his father and relatives at their own service station, located in a garage on Ingushsky Street in Nalchik.

On March 6, around 6.30pm, three passenger cars approached the garage, out of which jumped several armed men in civilian clothing.  Without introducing themselves or offering an explanation, they burst into the garage brandishing weapons and, on ascertaining which of those present was Inal, seized him and dragged him outside.  One of the attackers hit Inal around the head with the butt of his gun.  After throwing the seized man into a car, the kidnappers set off in an unknown direction.

Cameras, located in and outside the garage, captured what happened.  As the kidnappers were not wearing masks, their faces were also caught on camera.

The father of the man kidnapped, Muradin Berov, immediately went to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria to report Inal's abduction.  However, he was not even allowed into the building and was ordered to leave the territory altogether.  The guards denied the possibility that Inal might be being held in the building.  Muradin went to the Nalchik city prosecutor and to the Investigations Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, where his statement was accepted.  Moreover, an investigator from the Committee telephoned the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Muradin's presense, but they replied that Inal Berov had not been detained by their staff.

Inal was not answering his telephone.  However, the following day, at around 11am, he called his father from his mobile phone and said that he was near the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Kuliev Street, and he asked him to come to collect him.  Muradin immediately went to that place and met his son.  According to his father, Inal seemed depressed, bruises and scratches were visible on his body, and he was frowning and complained of pains in his back.

Inal told his father that they had begun beating him in the car, then they took him to the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, where police officers beat him and gave him electric shocks.  According to Berov, he was forced under torture to confess to his guilt in a robbery conducted with Murat Sokhov.  He told his father that during his beating and torture, the police officers told him that Sokhov would provide the testimony which they were demanding of him.  According to them, this would be sufficient to land Berov in jail.  Inal refused to incriminate himself even under torture.  Around midnight they stopped torturing him, and in the morning, the police officers released Berov.  They also showed unprecedented humanity, returning him his mobile phone and giving him 500 rubles to take a car home.  The police officers asked him to “understand the particular nature of their work, which forced them to resort to such methods to obtain information”.  However, they also warned Berov that if he reported them, they would be able to produce something that would land him in jail.

On March 7, his father appealed with a statement to the Prosecutor of the Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, on the use of violence by police in relation to his son.  That same day, doctors from the bureau of  forensic examination recorded a fracture in Inal's lumbar vertebrate, an internal brain and skull injury, concussion,  and bruising and scratches on his face and body.

On April 10, the Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria opened a criminal case against the police officers who beat and tortured Berov, citing 'a' of Part 3, Article 286 (abuse of power with use of violence) of the Russian Criminal Code.      The bringing of I. Berov to the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and his torture there are considered established facts.  However, despite the fact that Inal Berov states in his testimony that he is ready to identify those police officers involved, this has not yet taken place.  Inal has been recognized as a victim in the case (http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/737.pdf).

As the victim, I. Berov has given evidence: http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/739.doc.  Below is an extract from his testimony:

“They dragged me into a black car VAZ 2114 or VAZ 2115.  We went somewhere, I couldn't see where, because I was blindfolded.  They asked me if I knew a man by the name of Murat Sokhov.  I said that I did.  After that they started to beat me on the head from both sides with the butt of their guns, inside the car.  At the same time, one of those sitting in the car, turning to someone, said: “Wait, let's go to the forest, rape him, and then carry on”.  While the car was moving, they also said that they would rape my mother and father.

“...They took me to an office on the ground floor.  They removed the blindfold and I saw there were about 12 people.  Several of them asked me: “Are you going to talk?”, and I said I would.  They asked me to tell them about how last year I, Sokhov, Abanokov and another man called “Mussa”, had taken 6000 rubles from some man and shot him in the leg.  I said that I had not taken part in any such thing, that I knew nothing about it.  At that, the people present knocked me to the floor, removed my handcuffs, and taped my hands behind my back.  They again covered my head with a hat and secured it with tape.  I lay like that on the floor, and they began hitting me, namely, on the head and torso.  Then they attached a wire to my thumb and started giving me electric shocks.  They gave me electric shocks like this for about 10 minutes.  I cried out in pain, after which they gagged me with a piece of paper.  Then they removed the electric wires and continued beating me. I lost consciousness and came around to them hitting my head, saying “Don't pretend” and dousing me with water.  
At the same time, while they were beating me, the hat slipped from my eyes and I was able to see my surroundings and the faces of the people beating me.  After that, they sat me on a chair and again asked if I was going to talk.  They told me to tell them about how I had been involved in the robbery they had described.  So I started to deny my involvement.  One of the men started to get nervous, shouting at me, using very foul language towards me.  He pulled the chair out from underneath me and hit me around the head with it, causing the chair to break […].

“Then he produced a pistol, removed the safety catch, put his finger to the trigger, held it to my temple and said: “I'm going to shoot you now, bitch, then chuck you out, we'll burn your work in the night and, even if you survive, we'll plant a grenade or drugs on you, and you'll go to jail.”  After this, he left the office and another man came in.  The new man asked me: “Do you remember that you beat my friend because he sold drugs?”  I had not beaten the man they were talking about.  The man who had entered sat on top of me (I was on the floor) and stepped on my face, wound his right hand up in a cloth and started beating me on my spine, saying “This is for my friend.”

After the criminal case had been opened, Muradin Berov sent a letter to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, A.I. Bastirkin, in which he wrote:

“I thank from the bottom of my heart the employees of the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor's Office, and I do not doubt your professionalism and honor.  But, knowing local laws, which are full of confusion between the law and pseudo-ethnic concepts, and characterized by the loss of a distinction between good and evil, between virtue and vice, I am extremely concerned that the investigation will encounter insurmountable difficulties in the disclosure of this crime (whoever committed it).  Not one of those implicated has even been suspended from work, if one can call harming the health, life and fate of innocent people for the sake of notorious index, and actual connivance with the true criminals, 'work'.

“Is it really possible to let a bunch of criminals who have gone too far (whatever clothes they wear and whatever identity card they carry in their pocket) terrorize citizens and actually undermine the credibility of the government, to whose will these bad guys refer to.

“I beg you to help the investigative bodies of the Republic rid themselves of this wasps' nest, this handful of dishonest employees in the otherwise healthy body of the law enforcement agencies.

“In addition, my son's kidnappers threatened him with revenge if he were to disclose their terrible secret.

“I fear that without your help it will be difficult  for the local investigative bodies to identify and deal with this gang of criminals (they cannot be called otherwise).

“Please, put this problem under your own control – after all, this is not an anomalous situation, but is in fact widespread and critical.

“All hope depends on your help.”

On April 20, the doubts expressed in this letter where unfortunately proved to be founded.  Several police officers went to the Berov home.  Without offering any explanation, they announced that Inal had been  summoned for questioning by the Investigations Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.  Once there, I. Berov discovered that on the previous day, April 19, Murat Sokhov, the man accused of carrying out the previously described robbery and attack, had given testimony stating that Inal had taken part in the attack (the person under investigation, Sokhov, is being held in the city of Nalchik).  Sokhov had also stated that at the time of the attack, they had taken the keys from the BMW car.  In the course of questioning, as a witness, Inal in turn stated that he had been falsely incriminated and that he had not committed any robbery or attack.  However, Berov was detained, questioned as a suspect and taken into custody.

That same day, officers went to the Berovs' apartment with their own witnesses to conduct a search.  The police categorically refused to allow any neighbors to act as witnesses.  As a result of the search, the police announced that they had discovered keys with the very charm that came from the car which features in the robbery case.  Inal Berov's relatives are certain that the police planted the keys there.

The next day, April 21, the accusation against Inal Berov began to collapse.  In the course of investigations, Sokhov admitted that he had falsely incriminated Berov in a crime he had not committed.  He also said that he “could not give a reason for this false incrimination”.  Meanwhile, lawyers for Berov, with whom his relatives have signed a contract, are certain that Sokhov gave evidence against their client under pressure.

On April 22, Inal's release from custody was announced (http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/738.pdf).  Meanwhile, as of April 24, he remains a suspect in a criminal case.

Lawyers for Inal Berov are planning an additional examination of the client's health to identify the effects of his beating and torture.
See also a video recording about Berov's abduction and torture, prepared by Public Human Rights Center of Kabardino-Balkaria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbkpnd7hyAI&feature=youtube_gdata_player. The participants of the discussion are: the head of the Center Valery Khatazhukov, Inal Berov, his father Muradin Berov, Berov's lawyer and Human Rights Center “Memorial” employee Rustam Matsev. The item contains recordings of CCTV of abduction (18:44-20:38).

April 26, 2012

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