The sixth day of the examination of the appeal of Ruslan Kutaev’s lawyers against the court decision delivered on 7 July this year started as many others before – with announcing by the presiding judge Dmitry Gorbovets of the appellate decision in which the penal commission dismissed another motion of the defense team. This time it related to requesting investigator Magomed Tsoltsayev calls details record for the period from 20 to 22 February 2014. After that the hearing of the parties’ arguments started. The next meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m.
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 repeatedly emphasized that he considered his case forged. 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 rejected 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 argued that the prosecution of the 56-year-old Chechen politician was a standard and commonplace criminal case.
In the beginning of today’s court hearing the presiding judge Dmitry Gorbovtsov announced the appellate decision on the motion filed the previous day related to requesting investigator Magomed Tsoltsayev calls details record for the period from 20 to 22 February 2014. The defense team thinks that on 21 February of this year he could be present at drawing up the forged incident site visual inspection report which was dated by the previous day – 20 February, the same day when, according to Kutaev, he was abducted and beaten.
Penal commission dismissed this motion on the grounds that it trusted in the announced the day before testimony of investigator Tsoltsayev.
After that the hearing of the parties’ arguments started. The speech of prosecutor Aslambek Minkailov lasted not more than a couple of minutes and its essence was predictably about leaving the verdict unchanged.
In their turn, Ruslan Kutaev’s lawyers fully used their right to speak: for about two and half hours Ilyas Timishev and Petr Zaikin scrupulously and in detail substantiated their opinion – they considered the decision of the Urus-Martan City Court of the Chechen Republic in the case of Ruslan Kutaev to be unlawful and unmotivated. Once again lawyers pointed at numerous contradictions, unresolved during the examination of the case by the court of the first instance, as well as at procedural violations during the pre-trial investigation and the court hearing.
Lawyer Petr Zaikin provided eleven independent arguments, each of them in his opinion was sufficient for quashing the decision of the court of the first instance.
Ruslan Kutaev’s lawyer is going to continue his speech tomorrow, after that the parties will come out with replies. The court hearing is scheduled at 2 p.m.