Постановление Европейского суда по правам человека от 15.07.2010 «Дело Медведев (medvedev) против России» [англ.]

Город принятия

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
FIRST SECTION
CASE OF MEDVEDEV v. RUSSIA
(Application No. 9487/02)
JUDGMENT*
(Strasbourg, 15.VII.2010)
____________________________
*This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Medvedev v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

Christos Rozakis, President,

Nina {Vajic}*,

____________________________
*Здесь и далее по тексту слова на национальном языке набраны латинским шрифтом и выделены фигурными скобками.

Anatoly Kovler,

Elisabeth Steiner,

Khanlar Hajiyev,

Dean Spielmann,

Sverre Erik Jebens, judges,

and {Soren} Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 24 June 2010,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the last-mentioned date:

PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (No. 9487/02) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("the Convention") by a Russian national, Aleksandr Vyacheslavovich Medvedev ("the applicant"), on 27 January 2002.

2. The applicant was represented by Mr A.Y. Yablokov, a lawyer practising in Moscow. The Russian Government ("the Government") were represented by Mr P. Laptev, former Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

3. Under Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the Convention, the applicant complained of ill-treatment by the police, lack of medical care in pre-trial detention, lack of information about the reasons for his arrest, delay by the court in reviewing the lawfulness of his detention, and unfairness of the criminal proceedings in his criminal case.

4. On 4 May 2006 the Court declared the application partly inadmissible and decided to communicate to the Government the complaints concerning the alleged ill-treatment of the applicant while in police custody and the delay in reviewing his application for release. It was also decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility (Article 29 § 1).

THE FACTS
I. The circumstances of the case
A. The alleged ill-treatment
5. The applicant was born in 1978 and lives in Moscow.

6. In the early morning of 22 February 2001 the applicant entered the grounds of a furniture depot, where he was spotted by security guards. The guards called the police, and, soon after, the applicant was arrested. He claimed that he had been beaten by the police officers and the guards when he was being arrested. After searching the premises, the police discovered a handgun, allegedly belonging to the applicant. The applicant was taken to Vidnovo police station (Moscow Region) for questioning.

7. The applicant alleges that in the course of the questioning police officers M. and E. tortured him: they put a gas mask over his head and blocked air access, so that he started suffocating. They also hit him with a rubber stick. The applicant agreed to confess to theft and, moreover, to give them money so that they would stop. At about 4 a.m. the applicant went to his flat, accompanied by two police officers, where, at gunpoint, he handed over 5,000 US dollars. Then the police officers returned to the police station with him and he was locked in a cell. However, the policemen promised him that if he confessed to the alleged crimes the town prosecutor would soon release him on bail. The applicant wrote a statement in which he confessed to attempted theft and illegal possession of a handgun.

8. The Government produced an extract from the police station record of arrests. Entry No. 296 concerned the applicant; it read as follows: "22.02.2001/[the applicant] made no complaints [about his condition]/no visible injuries [on him]".

9. In the afternoon the police instituted criminal proceedings against the applicant on suspicion of theft and illegal possession of a firearm (criminal case No. 39697). In connection with these proceedings the town prosecutor authorised the applicant's pre-trial detention.

10. On 23 February 2001 the applicant met with his lawyer. Through him the applicant transmitted to the town prosecutor a written statement in which he described the circumstances of his arrest, the ill-treatment and extortion of money. According to the applicant, his complaint of ill-treatment was handed to the investigator in charge of his case on that date; however, the case file does not contain any proof of that.

11. On 5 March 2001 the applicant lodged a formal complaint with the town prosecutor about the ill-treatment and extortion, seeking the criminal prosecution of the police officers involved. He also requested to be released on the grounds that he might easily be subjected to further pressure and physical violence by those police officers while in the pre-trial detention facility.

12. The applicant claimed that, as a result, officers M. and E. had been dismissed from service. The Government confirmed that M. had been dismissed for underperformance and E. had been transferred to another unit. However, neither of these disciplinary measures was related to the events at issue.

13. On 21 May 2001, after a preliminary inquiry into the applicant's allegations of ill-treatment, the town prosecutor decided not to proceed with the investigation. The materials of the inquiry were added to the file in the applicant's case.

14. On 25 May 2001 the Vidnovo town prosecutor issued a bill of indictment in the applicant's case and transmitted it with the case-file to the Vidnovo Town Court for examination on the merits.

15. In July 2001 the applicant's lawyer lodged similar complaints of ill-treatment with the Regional Prosecutor and the Prosecutor General, seeking further investigation into the alleged ill-treatment and extortion. It is unclear whether those complaints were ever examined on the merits. The applicant's complaint in similar terms lodged with the Internal Security Department of the Ministry of the Interior was forwarded to the Moscow Regional Court "for further inquiries". On 5 September 2001 this complaint was forwarded to the Vidnovo Town Court, where it was "added to the case file".

16. After the applicant's conviction on 10 September 2001, his lawyer lodged a new complaint with the prosecutor of the Vidnovo district, seeking the institution of criminal proceedings against officers M. and E. As can be seen from the applicant's submissions, he received no reply to this complaint.

17. On 19 March 2002 the applicant lodged a civil-law complaint about the inaction of the prosecutor of the Vidnovo district before the Vidnovo Town Court, under the provisions of the Judicial Appeals Act (see the "Relevant domestic law" part below).

18. On 29 March 2002 the court returned his complaint unexamined. The Town Court indicated that the complaint had been lodged under the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, whereas it should have been lodged in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Town Court referred to the position of the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, expressed in its Ruling of 21 December 1993 in which the Supreme Court held that decisions of the prosecuting authorities should be challenged by way of a criminal-law complaint.

19. The applicant appealed, claiming that the Town Court's refusal to examine his complaint was unlawful and breached his constitutional right of access to court. However, on 22 May 2002 the Moscow Regional Court upheld the decision of the Vidnovo Town Court of 29 March 2002. The Court of Appeal confirmed that the decision of the prosecutor not to proceed with the case should have been challenged under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

B. Applications for release
20. During the pre-trial investigation of criminal case No. 39697 and the trial of his case before the Vidnovo Town Court the applicant remained in the remand prison. On several occasions he requested the investigator in charge of his case and the town prosecutor to release him. In particular, on 22 March 2001 he lodged an application with the Vidnovo town prosecutor. However, it was refused on the ground that the applicant might abscond or interfere with the course of justice.

21. On 17 April 2001*the applicant lodged another application for release with the court. In his application he described the alleged ill-treatment and extortion of money by the police officers. He also referred to various defects in the investigation proceedings and to his poor health and personal circumstances.

____________________________
*The case file contains two identical applications for release, both addressed to the Kashira Town Court and dated 14 and 17 April 2001 respectively. The Court retains the later date as the date of introduction of the application for release because this is the date indicated in the applicant's submissions.

22. On 11 May 2001 the Kashira Town Court of the Moscow Region rejected his application, putting forward the following arguments:

"[The applicant] has committed several intentional crimes, including serious ones. This fact is not disputed either by [the applicant] or by his defence counsel. There is no information that the state of his health is incompatible with detention pending investigation. Given this fact and taking into account the fact that Mr Medvedev committed the impugned crime in another district, the Court holds that the investigative authorities have rightly applied detention pending investigation as a preventive measure."
The applicant was informed in that ruling that he had seven days to lodge an appeal with the Moscow Regional Court.

23. The applicant's lawyer appealed. The applicant indicated that his appeal had been lodged on 14 May 2001; the Government did not dispute that assertion. On 13 June 2001 the appeal was dismissed by the Moscow Regional Court. It appears that neither the applicant nor his lawyer was present at the appeal court hearing. The ruling of the appeal court was very short and dealt with the applicant's arguments summarily.

24. The applicant indicated that he had received a copy of the appeal court's decision in February 2002*. The Government did not dispute that; they claimed, however, that the case file concerning the application for release before the Kashira Town Court had been destroyed after the expiry of the time-limits established by domestic legislation for the storage of documents in the court's archives. The applicant indicated that under the applicable rules on document management in the Russian courts the case file concerning his application for release should have been kept in the Moscow Regional Court until 2007, so these documents should have been in the possession of the authorities.

____________________________
*From the letter from the Kashira Town Court it appears that copies of the decisions of 11 May and 13 June 2001 were dispatched to the applicant at his request on 30 January 2002.

C. Trial of the applicant's case
25. On 22 May 2001 the prosecution forwarded the applicant's case, together with the bill of indictment, to the Vidnovo Town Court of the Moscow Region. In the course of the trial the applicant raised the issue of ill-treatment and extortion of money by the police officers before the court as an argument in support of his innocence.

26. On 10 September 2001 the Vidnovo Town Court delivered its judgment. As to the alleged ill-treatment, the court rejected this argument, referring to the inquiry conducted by the Vidnovo town prosecutor at the applicant's request. The court further noted that the security guards at the furniture depot, who had been present at the time of the applicant's arrest, had testified that the applicant had confessed to the alleged theft immediately. So there had been no need to put further pressure on him in order to extort a confession.

27. The court found the applicant guilty of attempted theft but acquitted him of illegal possession of firearms. He was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment.

28. The judgment of 10 September 2001 was subject to appeal to the Moscow Regional Court. However, the applicant did not appeal, allegedly out of fear of reprisals by the police officers implicated in the ill-treatment. Therefore, the conviction became final on 17 September 2001. A supervisory-review appeal by the applicant was rejected by the Moscow Regional Court on 13 December 2001.

29. On 24 October 2001 the applicant was released from prison.

II. Relevant domestic law
30. The RSFSR Code of Criminal Procedure (in force until 1 July 2002, "the old CCrP") established that a criminal investigation could be initiated by an investigator following a complaint by an individual, or on the investigating authorities' own initiative where there was a reason to believe that a crime had been committed (Articles 108 and 125). A prosecutor was responsible for the overall supervision of the investigation (Articles 210 and 211). He could order specific investigative actions, transfer the case from one investigator to another or order an additional investigation. If there were no grounds to initiate a criminal investigation, the prosecutor or investigator issued a reasoned decision to that effect which had to be notified to the interested party. The decision was amenable to appeal to a higher-ranking prosecutor or to a court of general jurisdiction (Article 113 of the old CCrP).

31. Federal Law № 4866-1 on Judicial Review of Acts and Decisions Infringing Individual Rights and Freedoms dated 27 April 1993 (hereinafter "the Judicial Review Act"), provided for a judicial avenue for claims against public authorities. It stated that any act, decision or omission by a state body or official could be challenged before a court of general jurisdiction if it encroached on an individual's rights or freedoms. Such complaints had to be introduced and examined under the rules of the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 3 of the Act provided that this did not apply to situations for which the law established another legal avenue of judicial review. The Ruling of the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 21 December 1993 (No. 10) specified that a civil-law complaint, provided for by the Judicial Review Act, was not an appropriate legal remedy against decisions of the prosecution authorities taken within the criminal proceedings. Such decisions were to be challenged under the provisions of the Code