Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov & Others v Russian Federation
Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker who is serving a twenty-year prison sentence in Russian correctional facilities. He alleges that his conviction was based on evidence obtained by torture.
Born in 1976, Ukrainian national Oleg Sentsov is a filmmaker and writer from Crimea.
He actively opposed the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014 by delivering food supplies to the Ukrainian army units trapped in their barracks.
He was arrested by FSB officers on 10 May 2014 on suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organisation and of having actively prepared a terrorist attack with explosives and of acquiring illegal explosives.
He was taken to a local police station where he alleges that he was beaten, asphyxiated, electrocuted and threatened with rape. He was pressured by FSB officers to confess to planning and performing terrorist attacks, but he did not.
When transferred to a detention centre in Simferopol, Oleg was examined by a doctor who discovered numerous bruises on his body.
On 25 August 2015, the Military Court of the North-Caucasian Command convicted Oleg of terrorism and sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment. The court rejected his complaints about ill-treatment and coercion.
The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the verdict upon appeal.
ACTION FOR JUSTICE
On 4 June 2014, Oleg’s lawyer filed a criminal complaint with the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation due to his ill-treatment.
On 17 July 2014 an expert appointed by the Investigation Committee found that he had facial abrasions and spinal bruises caused by impacts with a blunt object. The expert suggested that these injuries may have been caused on 11 May 2014.
On 4 August 2014 the investigator of the Investigation Committee refused to institute criminal proceedings based on Oleg’s complaints about ill-treatment stating that sadomasochistic toys found in his apartment could have been the reason for his injuries. The Appeal against that decision was dismissed on 26 November 2014 by the same officer who had refused to institute criminal proceedings.
Oleg was never questioned regarding his ill-treatment on the night of 10-11 May 2014 and he and his lawyers have not been informed of any developments in the investigation of his ill-treatment.
On 27 April 2016, Oleg’s lawyer launched a case against Russia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) alleging violations of Article 3 (torture), Article 6 (fair trial) and Article 10 (freedom of expression).
In particular, Oleg complains that he was tortured and ill-treated by the FSB officers during the pre-trial investigation, that there was no effective investigation into his complaints, and that the trial used evidence from a witness which was obtained under torture.
The above steps were all undertaken before REDRESS became involved in the case.
In March 2019, REDRESS was given permission to intervene in the ECtHR case, jointly with Fair Trials. The intervention argues that:
- Based on the absolute prohibition of torture, all evidence obtained by torture or other prohibited ill-treatment should be excluded from use at trial.
- Reliance upon torture evidence in court proceedings violates the right to a fair trial, whatever the source of that evidence.
- Once a defendant has made a credible claim that evidence was obtained by torture, the burden of proof should then shift to the State to prove that the evidence was not obtained by torture, if that evidence is to be used in the proceedings.
- In considering whether there is a real risk that evidence has been obtained by torture, courts should examine whether key torture prevention safeguards have been implemented.
- Third party intervention, 2 April 2019. Case Pending.
Case name: Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov & Others v. Russian Federation
Court/Body: European Court of Human Rights
Date filed: 2 April 2019 (Third Party Intervention)
Current status: Case pending
Legal representation: REDRESS & Fair Trials (intervener)
Fair Trials is a global criminal justice watchdog with offices in London, Brussels, and Washington D.C., focused on improving the right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards.