Russia: Suspect In Vodka-King Murder Case Claims Torture
In October 2013, masked men kidnapped Oleg Dergilev and his chauffeur, drove them to a forest near the Russian city of Samara, locked the driver in the trunk, and shot Dergilev to death.
Dergilev had built a business empire of more than 270 liquor stores in the south-central Russian Samara region, as well as the Saratov region close to the Kazak border and a small number of stores elsewhere. His liquor store group, named “Vodka,” earned revenues of more than 1.3 billion rubles (US$ 22.6 million) in 2009, according to a local media report which dubbed him the King of Vodka.
His shops sold alcohol on a 24-hour basis until he ran into trouble with night-time alcohol sales bans introduced after complaints from residents. Dergilev had also unsuccessfully attempted to launch a political career with Putin’s United Russia party and later also with the Just Russia party.
At the time of the killing, local lawyer Alexander Paulov told Moscow newspaper Kommersant that killing Dergilev might be designed to shock: “If a businessman owes someone, he would be tortured but not killed… that it happened during the day and the driver was left alive, suggests that it was an act to intimidate his business partners.”
Police said in May 2015 that they had arrested and prepared indictments against four alleged contract killers in regards to the murder, all of whom deny guilt.
On July 21, news agency VNInform obtained a letter containing serious allegations that one of those accused, Sergey Doganin, was tortured by investigators in an effort to frame him for the crime. A letter states that when he refused to implicate himself and his alleged accomplices in the crime, two investigators forced him to confess after they threatened him with rape.
The news report says it is unclear how long the torture lasted or whether the threat was carried out. In February, news reports emerged that one of the defendants had “somehow cut his right abdomen”, and there are other allegations of torture.
Investigators have denied the Allegations, saying the defendants wanted to mislead the Court. Court hearings on the murder case are upcoming.