In Dagestan, a judge in a police torture case, declared a recusal due to being acquainted with the defendants


17 August 2020
Photo: Ramazan Suleymanov and Yusoup Magomedov

Today, on 17 September 2020, in Khasavyurt, a trial of two former police officers started, who are charged with forcing a local citizen to confess of a rape of an underage neighbor girl. During the court hearing, the defense lawyer submitted a motion to recuse judge Akif Gadjiyev. As the defendants’ defense lawyer explained, this judge previously worked at the Prosecutor’s Office of the Khasavyurt District and was closely contacting with the defendants both professionally and socially. Judge Gadjiyev, having failed to remember this on his own, declared a recusal.

As we have previously reported, a citizen of Mutsalaul settlement of the Republic of Dagestan Musa Aliyev applied for legal assistance to the Committee Against Torture on 25 October 2019. He told human rights defenders that on 6 September 2019, the police officers took him to the building of the Department of the Interior of Russia for the Khasavyurt District, allegedly, for providing evidence as a witness with regard to the murder committed in the settlement a few months ago in a neighboring settlement. Aliyev remembers that he was taken to the room on the second floor and there two police officers started to beat him up: Deputy of the Head of Criminal Investigations of the Department of the Interior of Russia for the Khasavyurt District Ramazan Suleymanov and criminal investigations officer Yusoup Magomedov.

According to Aliyev, these police officers hit his feet, back and face, as well as made him stand near the wall with spread legs (put him on “spreader”) for over an hour in order to force confession of the rape of an underage neighbor girl.

Aliyev refused to provide false confessions and in the evening of the same day he was released home without drawing up any procedural documents or registration in the manual. Musa applied to the Khasavyurt City Hospital for medical assistance. Later on, the expert diagnosed Aliyev with brain concussion and contusion of soft tissues of the parietofrontal area, which inflicted a mild damage to health and were caused by the impact of a solid blunt object.

On 10 October 2019, based on Musa Aliyev’s applying to the medical institution, the Khasavyurt Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Republic of Dagestan initiated a criminal case under Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF (“abuse of office using violence”) with regard to police officers Suleymanov and Magomedov, and Aliyev was declared a victim.

On 27 July 2020, Deputy Prosecutor of the Republic of Dagestan affirmed the indictment of police officers Suleymanov and Magomedov. The criminal case is submitted to court for examination on its merits.

Today, in the court of the court hearing, one of the defendants’ defense lawyers, Ruslan Umayev, informed that Akif Gadjiyev previously worked at the Dagestan Prosecutor’s Office and was supervising the internal affairs bodies. For many years he had been contacting defendants Suleymanov and Magomedov. Referring to the possibility that such close acquaintance of the judge with the defendants may have an impact on objectivity of the court proceedings, defense lawyer Umayev submitted a motion to recuse judge Akif Gadjiyev. This motion was supported by the Prosecutor, as well as the victim’s side.

Judge Gadjiyev decided to satisfy the motion and passed a ruling on recusal.

“It is, certainly, an absolutely reasonable decision, – Head of the North Caucasus branch with the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov comments. – If the judge had not taken this ruling on recusal, we would have had to spend several months of hearings in vain, since his verdict would have been definitely quashed by the appellate instance due to possible personal involvement. The only thing that is strange is that the judge did not declare this on his own, but the former police officers’ defense lawyer had to do it: he had information about the judge’s previous employment, because he had worked in law-enforcement himself before”.

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