Chechen Supreme Court Judge disqualifies self because of pressure from "a person identifying himself as the Minister of the Interior for the Chechen Republic"

Событие | Пресс центр

11 November 2013

On 1 November 2013 judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic Vakhid Abubakarov disqualified himself from a trial. As it is said in the decision, it was done on the grounds that the judge had received a telephone call from «a person identifying himself as the Minister of the Interior for the Chechen Republic, general-lieutenant Alkhanov Ruslan Shakhaevich» who warned the judge against acquittal.

(Judge Vakhid Abubakarov, photo from http://vs.chn.sudrf.ru)

Judge Vakhid Abubakarov was examining the criminal case against Suleiman Edigov, charged with criminal offenses under Articles 317 (encroachment on the life of an officer of a law-enforcement body) and 222 (2) (illegal purchase, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or bearing weapons, committed by a group of persons under a preliminary conspiracy) of Russian Criminal Code.

However, as judge Abubakharov noted in the ruling on self-disqualification, «in the course of the trial the Court examined a complex of consistent evidence corroborating defendant Edigov’s submissions, that police officers subordinate to Mr Alkhanov R. Sh. abducted him on 3 August 2012 and were keeping him under unlawful detention till 12 September 2012. During that period of time they were repeatedly wrapping aluminum wires under voltage around his fingers, thus torturing him with electricity with the purpose to obtain confession statements from him. The ill-treatment inflicted him putrid nonhealing wounds of the right and left ring and little fingers».

The judge expresses opinion that «the call and warning from Mr Alkhanov R. SH. can be explained by the fact that the court possesses evidence providing grounds to prosecute the police officers for  grave criminal offenses».

«After the interference of a high-level official with my examination of the case, any subsequent judgment I deliver in respect of Mr Edigov, even in my own estimate, even in spite of myself, will seem to be either yielding to the pressure, if it is conviction, or displaying courage, if it is acquittal. In other words, it will look either corrupt or protest», concludes judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic Vakhid Abubakarov.

Human rights defenders demand that authorities check the information given in the court decision and ensure security measures for judge Abubakarov. The relevant requests have been sent to the Prosecutor General of the RF Yury Chaika, to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the RF Aleksandr Bastrykin, and to the Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

The Chairman of the INGO «Committee Against Torture», a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, Igor Kalyapin, comments on the news as follows: «It is not the first time we have received a piece of information concerning pressure upon judicial bodies of the Chechen Republic on the part of high-level officials, but this is the first time we have witnessed a totally principled and lawful reaction from a judge. It looks like the arbitrary behaviour and unlimited power of Chechen security, defense and law enforcement officials have started to arouse indignation not only of regular citizens, but also of judicial officials».