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Trial of the Head of Kopeisk Penal Colony Begins

17 January 2014

Source: Novaya gazeta

Kopeisk City Court has begun hearing the case of the head of penal colony No. 6, Major Dennis Mekhanov, accused of abuse of office resulting in serious consequences (Article 285, Section 3, of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and the illegal manufacture of weapons (Article 223, Section 4, of the Criminal Code).

On November 25, 2012 Denis Mekhanov was head of penal colony No. 6 in Kopeisk in Chelyabinsk region when discontent erupted among the prisoners, and after which instances of beatings, torture and extortion of money from prisoners by members of staff at the colony were revealed. As a consequence, two criminal cases were opened. The trial in the first case opened on 16 January in Kopeisk City Court; the second is still under investigation.

Denis Mekhanov has been indicted on several counts of extorting money from prisoners, for a grand total of 332,000 roubles and for the illegal manufacture of about 40 guns of various kinds. Mekhanov has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the Ural Human Rights Group, the indictment included less than one per cent of the amount of money extorted and the victims were not even acquainted with the evidence of the case. This was only established in the court hearing. The human rights activists said that "with an enviable persistence" the Prosecutor did not support the petitions of the victims at the first hearing.

Fearing that there would not be a lawful verdict in the case, the Ural Human Rights Group and several members of the Chelyabinsk region Public Oversight Commission have sought to organize broad support for the victims, to ‘stop them putting the case on the back burner’.

The Ural Human Rights Group has sent one of its lawyers, Dina Aivarovna Latypova, to represent the five victims, and in addition has paid for the services of the lawyer Evgeny Goroshko. There are altogether 13 victims in the case. Mekhanov is defended by three lawyers.

On 17 January the case was adjourned until 27 January, after which the questioning of the victims will proceed.

Translated by Graham Jones