Sergei Lapin

Sergei Lapin

Sergei Lapin (also known by his radio call sign "Cadet") is a former Russian police officer who had served in Grozny, Chechnya as a Lieutenant in the special police detachment (OMON) from the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Federation. In 2005 and again in 2007 he has been convicted for the torture of a Chechen student Zelimkhan Murdalov.

Disappearance of Zelimkhan Murdalov

Zelimkhan Murdalov disappeared on 2 January 2001 after having been detained by Russian OMON forces in Grozny, and according to witnesses was subsequently was tortured to death in police custody. On 7 January 2001, a criminal investigation was opened into Murdalov's forced disappearance.

The investigation found that on 3 January 2001 Murdalov was taken into a cell in the district police of Oktyabrsky district by Lapin and another unidentified official. There Lapin had beaten Murdalov with a truncheon and subjected him to electric shock treatment while in detention. Witnesses told the court that while in the cell, Murdalov could hardly stand and lost consciousness several times. His arm was broken, his ear torn and he had received concussion to his head. The next day Lapin and some as yet unidentified colleagues took Murdalov out of the cell and since then his fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

Death threats investigation

In September 2001, journalist Anna Politkovskaya published an article in "Novaya Gazeta" newspaper called "The Disappearing People", in which she spoke about the allegations connecting Sergei Lapin and his OMON colleagues to the torture of Zelimkhan Murdalov. Following the publication of this article, Politkovskaya received two letters containing threats to her life, reportedly written by Lapin. The Office of the Procurator of the city of Nizhnevartovsk in Khanty-Mansyski region opened a criminal investigation in October 2001 into Lapin’s involvement in threatening the safety of Politkovskaya. This investigation had been reportedly closed and renewed at least nine times.

On October 7 2006 Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in Moscow, bringing suspicions upon Lapin and his colleagues. [ [http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?volume_id=416&issue_id=3902&article_id=2371582 KHANTY-MANSIISK COPS SUSPECTED IN POLITKOVSKAYA MURDER] ]

Torture trials

In January 2002, Sergei Lapin was arrested and charged in connection with the allegations of torture of Zelimkhan Murdalov in detention. Lapin was released pending trial in May 2003 because he was found not to be threatening to the public safety. His trial began in Grozny at the end of 2003, and at first he reportedly has not attended any of the hearings because he claimed he suffered a mental illness. However, according to reports, he was first dismissed from OMON, but later reinstated as a police officer in the city of Nizhnevartovsk. Reportedly, he was awarded a medal "For Protecting Public Order", accompanied by a letter, signed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On March 29 2005, a court in Grozny found Lapin guilty of torturing Murdalov, and sentenced him to 11 years' imprisonment. On release he will be banned from working for agencies under the MVD for three years. In addition, the court sent a special ruling to the head of the Khanty-Mansyski OMON, reportedly criticising the conduct of the OMON unit serving in Chechnya in broader terms.

Another sentence, of 10.5 years in prison, was passed in Grozny on November 27, 2007. In his lastplea to the court, Lapin did not pleadguilty and regretted that he had appeared for the trial several years ago. [ [http://eng.kavkaz.memo.ru/newstext/engnews/id/1202431.html "Cadet" sentenced to 10.5 years in prison for torturing a Chechnya resident] ] Other individuals responsible for the torture and "disappearance" of Murdalov have yet to be identified and brought to justice.

ee also

*Second Chechen War crimes and terrorism

References

* [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460162004?open&of=ENG-346 Amnesty International (1)]
* [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460162004?open&of=ENG-346 Amnesty International (2)]


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