The ECHR judgment of January 15, 2019 in the case of Ilgiz Khalikov v. Russia (application No. 48724/15).
In 2015, the applicant was assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to the Russian Federation.
In the case, an application is complained of causing the person in custody injury as a result of improper transportation conditions. The case contained a violation of Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Circumstances of the case
The applicant and eight other detainees were transported in a prison van intended for a maximum of seven persons, with three seats for the convoy. As a former police officer, the applicant was placed next to the escorts. At some point, the three detainees tried to escape and one of them took possession of the gun of one of the escorts. During the ensuing shoot-out, the applicant was accidentally wounded in the leg. He subsequently complained of a serious violation of the rules for the transport of persons in custody. As a result of the “pre-investigation check”, less than a month later, a decision was issued to refuse to institute criminal proceedings.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
Regarding compliance with article 3 of the Convention. (a) The legal process. In many previous cases against the Russian Federation, the Court has noted the structural flaws of the “pre-investigation check”. If there is a plausible complaint of ill-treatment, the authorities are required to institute criminal proceedings and conduct an investigation. Instead, the verification of the present case was both belated and insufficient in scope and did not constitute a serious attempt to establish all the circumstances of the incident or to hold those responsible accountable for the shot that led to the applicant’s injury. The refusal to institute criminal proceedings on the applicant’s plausible complaints about the lack of protection of his physical integrity, which the authorities were promptly notified of, constituted the lack of an effective investigation.
In the case there was a violation of the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention in its procedural and legal aspect (adopted unanimously).
(b) The substantive aspect. As to whether the authorities of the respondent State could be held responsible for injuring the applicant, the Court notes that the applicant was the victim of a random shootout during an unsuccessful escape attempt in which the applicant did not take any part. It was not disputed by the parties that the applicant’s wound in the leg was more accidental than intentional, and nothing in the case file indicates that someone was aiming at the applicant or wanted to harm him.
At the same time, although the applicant was wounded by accident, his presence in the unsafe area of the prison van was caused by the convoy's decision to transport more prisoners than the van could accommodate, in violation of general rules. As a result, the applicant did not have a free compartment, and he had to go with the escorts. Such a situation constituted a violation of a special regulation on the placement of particularly vulnerable categories of prisoners, such as former law enforcement officers, to which the applicant belonged, in separate compartments during transport.
The rules for the transport of prisoners were established to prevent security breaches, such as in the present case. They limit the number of prisoners who can be transported together in order to reduce the risk of their concerted attempt to attack the guards. These rules also aimed to avoid cases of violence between prisoners by establishing the requirement for separate transportation of especially vulnerable persons.
In the present case, the convoy did not take into account the security risk arising from the transport of more prisoners than the one for which the van was intended. Regardless of whether the actions of the escorts were caused by the desire to save gas or avoid an extra trip, they violated the rules established to protect the welfare and physical integrity of prisoners during transportation. In such circumstances, the authorities of the respondent State should be held responsible for the fact that the applicant was not provided with adequate protection during transport.
In the case there was a violation of the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention in its substantive aspect (adopted unanimously).
In application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 20,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage; the claim for pecuniary damage was rejected.