Case of Aleksey Tarasov
Strategic litigation center
1. Torture at police station.
2. Lack of effective investigation.
3. Right not to incriminate oneself.
4. Right for adequate time to prepare defence.
5. Right to defend oneself through legal assistance of own choosing.
6. Right to obtain the attendance of witnesses on the defendant's behalf.
At international level - in September 2009 the application no.17416/03 was communicated to the Government of Ukraine
The case is supported by the Fund for Legal Aid to Victims of Ill-Treatment
Lawyers - Arkadiy Bushchenko
The applicant, Mr Aleksey Gennadyevich Tarasov, is a Ukrainian national who was born in 1965 and lives in Makeyevka.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
1. Criminal proceedings against the applicant
On 13 January 2000 the applicant was arrested by police officers from the Makeyevka Police Department and taken to the police station, where he was kept in police custody until 25 January 2000. During that time he had no access to a lawyer and was forced to confess.
During the court hearings the applicant claimed that his confession was extracted from him under duress, and requested the examination of witnesses who could have confirmed his allegations. According to the applicant, no such witnesses were heard by the court.
On 25 December 2001 the applicant and several other persons were found guilty of theft and robbery. The applicant was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
The applicant lodged appeals several times with the Donetsk Regional Court. They were all rejected for failure to comply with procedural requirements.
The applicant then lodged a cassation appeal with the Supreme Court.
On 29 October 2002 the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the first-instance court.
2. Investigation of ill-treatment
According to the applicant, between 13 and 25 January 2000 he was kept in police detention facilities, where he was severely beaten many times by the police, who forced him to confess to theft and robbery.
On 14 January 2000 he was taken to hospital because of his poor state of health. The numerous medical reports recorded different injuries and bruises. According to the applicant, only some of his injuries were recorded and he was warned by the police to state that those injuries were self-inflicted.
On 25 May 2000 the Makeyevka Prosecutor’s Office refused to institute criminal proceedings concerning the alleged ill-treatment, considering that it could not be established beyond reasonable doubt that the applicant had been ill-treated by the police.
On 2 August 2000 the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office quashed that decision and ordered further investigation.
On 7 September 2000 the Makeyevka Prosecutor’s Office refused to institute criminal proceedings for lack of proof of a crime.
On 6 November 2003 the Tsentralno-Gorodskoy District Court of Makeyevka quashed the decision of 7 September 2000 and remitted the case for additional investigation.
On 26 February 2003 application to the European Court was lodged.
The applicant complains under Article 3 of the Convention about ill-treatment by the police and the lack of an investigation into it.
Under Article 5 §§ 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Convention he complains that his pre-trial detention was unlawful.
He further complains, under Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention, that his conviction was based to a large extent on self-incriminating statements obtained from him under duress and in the absence of a lawyer. He also maintains that he was forced to appear before the court despite his poor state of health, and that important witnesses who could have confirmed that he had been ill-treated were not summoned.
Lastly, the applicant complains under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that his personal belongings were stolen by the police; under Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 that he was forced to vote for the candidate indicated by the prison administration; and under Article 2 of Protocol No. 7 that his cassation appeal had not been examined at the time when he lodged his application.
The application was communicated to the Government of Ukraine in September 2009. The Court put to the parties the following questions:
1. Was the applicant subjected to ill-treatment in police custody, contrary to Article 3 of the Convention?
2. Having regard to procedural protection from inhuman and degrading treatment (see Labita v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 131, ECHR 2000-IV), was the investigation conducted in the present case by the domestic authorities in breach of Article 3 of the Convention?
3. Did the applicant have a fair hearing in the determination of the criminal charges against him, in accordance with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention? In particular, was the applicant’s right not to incriminate himself respected? Was the applicant able to participate in the court hearings effectively, given his poor state of health?
4. Was the applicant afforded adequate time to prepare his defence, as required by Article 6 § 3 (b) of the Convention?
5. Was the applicant able to defend himself through legal assistance of his own choosing, as required by Article 6 § 3 (c) of the Convention?
6. Was the applicant able to obtain the attendance of witnesses on his behalf, as required by Article 6 § 3 (d) of the Convention?