2008/02/21 "Investigation Body Broke Law"
  • Press Release No. 16/1017
  • 21/02/2008

Today, February 21, the Ryazan Garrison Court announced a decision on the case of Marat Gizatullin (b. 1986) from Bashkortostan who died in the army and whose parents have been seeking for the truth for two years. The decision passed by Judge Igor Vladimirovich Drugachenko can serve as an example of a just and fair position in such cases (the text is in Book 4 of the Lawyer's Council series published by the Mother's Right Foundation) and gives hope to parents of dead servicemen.

Let us remind you the story of Marat Gizatullin. Marat was drafted to the army on June 29, 2005, and served in M.U. 41450 (ALF). He had served 7 months before the incident happened. On January 17, 2006 the parents of the deceased received a letter which informed them that on January 10 their son left the unit without a leave pass (later on there appeared different dates: January 9-10-12-13). After receiving the letter, on January 24, the father of the deceased, Firdaus Shaikhullovich, went to Ryazan to find his son. The officials of the unit said nothing coherent to him and didn't help him to find his son. The father of the deceased spent 3 weeks searching for his son: taped photos, addressed his son through the local media... He shudders at the memory of his overnight stays in the unit: ‘I saw servicemen beating soldiers. They would stop beating on noticing me. I saw soldiers with wide pupils and no smell of alcohol. I saw Major Fedotov sending his soldiers for the vodka and snacks. Our friends from Bashkortostan saw soldiers carrying drunken officers out of the barracks. Many soldiers and even sergeants had bruises on their faces'. On April 12, the military commissariat received a letter informing that Marat Gizatullin had been found dead not far from the unit. The parents were in shock. They couldn't have imagined such an end. The father of the deceased said, ‘If he had escaped from the unit he would have come home'. In the presence of their numerous friends, they opened the coffin. ‘We opened it and got horrified. He was beaten all over. His head moved as if there were no bones in the neck. Instead of the nose there was a black hole as if somebody had hit him there. We raised our son but could not recognize him. We identified his body thanks to some special marks. We, parents, are sure that somebody killed him, transported him out of the unit and faked his suicide'.

Then, the Gizatullins went through the circles of hell. First, they hoped that the investigation would find out the true cause of Marat's death and punish the guilty. But the Office of Military Prosecutor of the Ryazan Garrison that had spent five months investigating the case denied the parents of the deceased victim status, and then, on August 11, announced that it had been a suicide and closed the case. The parents experienced another shock when they read the case materials. Anyone would have realized the deficiency of the investigation. First, the forensic experts did not register the injuries the parents saw with their own eyes; second, they did not examine the footprints beside the body. They did not take into account: a white stripe on one of the boots as if the soldier had been dragged; pieces of red brick beside his cap (there were no red brick buildings at the place); somebody's notebook found not far from the body (the investigation did not find the owner of the notebook though it was signed with his last name). The investigators did not try to find out what Gizatullin had been doing during three months. And third, they did not interrogate those witnesses who could have given the most profound information on the events because they were the friends of Gizatullin's. (Today, the Ryazan Garrison Court noted all these violations.)

The most outrageous thing for the parents of the deceased was the fact that the investigation came to the conclusion that their son was a self-murderer. Fortunately, the Gizatullins applied to the foundation in time and were advised to register all the injuries on their son's body. They took a lot of photos and made a video. Now we have an opportunity to give the materials on the case of Marat Gizatullin to independent forensic experts. We'll do it within the frame of the current project ‘Independent Forensic Investigation in Cases of Deaths of Servicemen'. From the report of the forensic examination carried out by Ph.D. Airat Ramirovich Galimov: ‘The most likely type of asphyxia in this case is obstructing the respiratory channels with hands or some plastic material. In several hours (or tens of hours) the body was obviously hanged by neck'. According to the report of Tagir Nazgatovich Kazykhanov, forensic expert, some injuries on the body of the deceased were not registered in the official report. He has doubts concerning the cause of Gizatullin's death.

On receiving the reports of the independent forensic experts, the Mother's Right Foundation submitted a letter of complaint to the Ryazan Garrison Court. The hearing was held on February 20. The decision was passed at today's hearing. The interests of the parents of the deceased were represented by Anna Mukaseyeva, lawyer of the Mother's Right Foundation. Our position: a) to declare the decision passed by the investigator from the Office of Military Prosecutor illegal; b) to cancel the decision; c) to renew the trial of the case of Marat Gizatullin and to restore the rights of the parents of the deceased.

The hearing was attended by Sergei Sergeyevich Ryshlyakov, representative of the unit. He asked the court to dismiss the complaint and objected to filing the report of forensic expert Kazykhanov. The court satisfied the request of the Mother's Right Foundation (Galimov's report was submitted to the court together with our letter of complaint).

Prosecutor Ryshlyakov said that his office had performed all necessary research and the report concerning an on the spot investigation was correct. He said, ‘There are no grounds for disbelief'.

The judge - to the prosecutor: ‘Did you undress Gizatullin after you had found him?' The prosecutor: ‘No, we did not undress him fully. During the forensic examination, we did not see other injuries beside the ligature marks on the neck and death spots'. The judge (who had studied the case materials and had seen the photos and video): ‘I've seen the photos and video. The bruises are clearly seen'. The prosecutor: ‘The photos and discs have been examined. The investigation did not find bodily injuries'. The judge: ‘And what about the bruises? I saw them with my own eyes. Let's bring the equipment in and see. There are some bruises that have not been registered!' The prosecutor: ‘There are no grounds for disbelief'. The judge: ‘Why the parents of the deceased did not receive victim status?' The prosecutor: ‘There were no reasons to do it because we didn't find out cases of hazing'. The judge: ‘There was the criminal case on ‘driving to suicide', and you performed an investigation, but at the same time there were no grounds for giving the parents of the deceased victim status?' The prosecutor had nothing to say.

Today, February 21, the court passed a decision: ‘According to Article 13 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the relatives of the deceased may have access to files relating to an investigation. Thus, the court is of the opinion that in the circumstances when the report on the death of M.F. Gizatullin can't be considered as unambiguous, the parents of the deceased have been deprived of their right to realize their procedural rights, provided by Article 42 of the RF CPC. The court considers this circumstance as a gross violation of the law committed by the investigation body'. The court satisfied the complaint of the Mother's Right Foundation.