Today, on 22 October 2014, penal division of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic has started the examination of the appeal of Ruslan Kutaev’s lawyers against the court decision delivered on 7 July this year. In the course of hours-long court hearing the defense team provided the court with its arguments in support of its appeal, and also filed several motions. Tomorrow the court is going to deliver the decision on one of them – concerning conducting graphologic examination of Kutaev search record. The hearing starts at 10 a.m.
(Photo: Ruslan Kutaev)
As we have previously reported, on July 7 in the Urus-Martan City Court of the Chechen Republic the verdict in the case of Ruslan Kutaev, a Chechen social activist and political figure, was announced. He was found guilty of criminal offenses under Article 228 (2) of Russian Criminal Code (illegal acquisition and possession of large quantity of drugs without intent to sell) and sentenced to a 4-year prison term to be served in general regime (minimum security) penal colony. Plus – a year of supervised release with prohibition on social activism.
Kutaev, who was arrested one day after he had participated in the conference dedicated to the 70-th anniversary of Chechen – Ingush deportation (the conference was not agreed with the authorities – Ramzan Kadyrov ordered not to perform this year the events dedicated to the memory of the victims of the deportation, since this date coincided with the closing of the Olympic games in Sochi) repeatedly emphasized that he considered his case to be politically motivated: «…This is the way the Chechen authorities are hindering me from human rights activity… My opinion, which I express in public, differs from the officials’ one, and it irritates them. Nevertheless, this is not the main reason for my being prosecuted either».
He also proclaimed his innocence: «…Lately, it has become a tendency in Russia that politicians and social activists who criticize the authorities are being discredited, and the Chechen Republic doesn’t make any exception… That is why the false charges with acquisition and possession of drugs and the criminal proceedings against me are mere vengeance for my political activity. This is the way they are intimidating other Chechen political and social activists and human rights defenders, who openly criticize the authorities…».
In their turn, human rights defenders with the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) claimed that this case was forged and the defendant gave the self-incriminating statements under torture.
The Chechen authorities reject any political motives in the case (the man was arrested one day after he had participated in the conference dedicated to the 70-th anniversary of Chechen – Ingush deportation, the conference was not agreed with the authorities), and argue that the prosecution of the 56-year-old Chechen politician is a standard and commonplace criminal case.
In the course of today’s court hearing lawyers Petr Zaikin and Ilyas Timishev directed the court’s attention to numerous contradictions, which the court of the first instance left without any evaluation during the proclaiming the allegedly unbiased verdict in the case of Ruslan Kutaev. For example, significant and sometimes mutually exclusive discrepancies in the evidence of the policemen (who supposedly took part in Kutaev’s detention) and in the Kutaev’s search record. In addition, the lawyers are convinced that the Urus-Martan City Court, which rejected a lot of motions, actually deprived Kutaev of his right of defense.
Petr Zaikin also directed the judges’ attention to the violations which took place in the course of examining the Kutaev’s case by the court of the first instance. For example, the defendant was not given the right to speak during the proceedings, which, in Zaikin’s opinion, is enough for the case to be remanded to the Urus-Martan City Court.
The lawyers also have filed several motions today, including the one concerning conducting graphologic examination of Kutaev search record (he claims that his signature is forged on one of the pages). In the course of today’s hearing Ruslan has claimed that the people who used torture and threats directed against his relatives, forced him to sign the search record. However, the deal was made: Kutaev signs the search record, but the record states that he accidentally found some pack and put it into his pocket (though even that was not the case), and after that he would be given a fine or administrative arrest.
«But I would never, and that is my principled stand, never agree that I had anything to do with some drug», – Ruslan Kutaev emphasized.
At about 4 p.m. the judges went to the consultation room to deliver the judgment on this appeal, which will be announced tomorrow, when the court hearing for examination of the appeal against the court decision in the case of Ruslan Kutaev continues.