Kleyn and Aleksandrovich v Russia
Forum: European Court of Human Rights
ERRC role: Representative
The case concerns the death in 2002 of Fatsima Aleksandrovich after she jumped out of a second-floor window in a police station where she was being held on suspicion of pick-pocketing.
Ms Aleksandrovich was arrested on a bus in Pskov and taken to the local police station for questioning. About two and half hours later her unconscious body was found in the police station courtyard. She was taken to hospital in a coma and died four days later. The autopsy report concluded that she had died of cerebral trauma and numerous other injuries to her body. The report also noted scratches on her left wrist and right knee.
According to the Government, Ms Aleksandrovich had jumped from a toilet window in order to escape.
Relying in particular on Article 2 (right to life), the applicants alleged that Ms Aleksandrovich had died as a result of ill-treatment in police custody and that her unconscious body had been placed in the police courtyard to make it look like she had tried to escape from the toilet window.
The Court reiterated that anyone held in custody was particularly vulnerable and the authorities were therefore obliged to account for the way in which they were treated. In this case, there was no serious evidence to support the allegation that anyone had intentionally taken Ms Aleksandrovich's life. There had therefore been no violation of the substantive limb of Article 2.
The Court went on to find that due to an inadequate legal framework and failure to ensure the effective participation of Ms Aleksandrovich's next of kin in any form of criminal proceedings, the Russian authorities had not taken all reasonable steps to determine the circumstances in which she had died.
The Court also pointed out that no criminal investigation into Ms Aleksandrovich's death had ever been launched. The authorities refused to open an investigation on at least four occasions and the domestic courts even admitted that, on that account, her partner's access to justice had been breached. There was therefore a breach of the procedural limb of Article 2.