Rights court condemns Russia for torturing murder suspect

4th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A top European court on Thursday condemned Russia for serious human rights violations in the case of a murder suspect who was repeatedly tortured by police until he signed a confession.

Alexandr Sokolov was arrested in the evening of February 19, 2004, at his home in the southwestern city of Lipetsk and beaten by police officers, who were drinking vodka, until he was taken to a local police station.

There, he was subjected to repeated and brutal torture, which continued even after he received medical treatment until he signed a confession the next morning, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said in its ruling.

Sokolov told the presiding investigator he had been beaten by people in the streets and requested medical attention for broken ribs. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and the court specifically refused to examine whether his confession had been extracted under duress.

The court ruled that Sokolov was the victim of torture, a fundamental infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR also criticised Russian authorities for their failure to carry out an effective criminal investigation into Sokolov's allegations of mistreatment, saying a more informal inquiry which took place was substandard. "The inquiry had not been independent, as the investigator in charge of the murder case had been called upon to investigate (Sokolov's) complaints of ill-treatment against the police officers," the ruling said.

Russia was ordered to pay Sokolov 50,000 euros (70,000 dollars) in damages.

© 2010 AFP

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