Today, on 31 October 2014, penal commission of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic consisting of Dmitry Gorbovtsov, Saydi Yangulbaev and Isa Bataev, having examined the appeal of Ruslan Kutaev’s lawyers against the court decision in his case, have delivered the judgment. The judges decided to quash the verdict of the court of the first instance commuting Ruslan Kutaev’s sentence to three years and nine months. Penal commission also considered a year of supervised release with prohibition on social activism to be excessive.
(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 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 57-year-old Chechen politician was a standard and commonplace criminal case.
Today’s court hearing started with Ruslan Kutaev speech during the proceedings, in which he emphasized again that he never asked the court to take his words on trust, but to check his words at least once by satisfying at least one of his numerous motions concerning checking different evidence. After short remarks of the parties of the proceedings and Ruslan Kutaev’s last statement the judges left for the consultation room in order to deliver the appellate judgment.
As a result the penal commission decided to change the verdict of the court of the first instance by decreasing the length of Ruslan Kutaev’s sentence to three years and ten months. The judges also considered a year of supervised release with prohibition on social activism to be excessive. In addition, the judges decided that a special court ruling would be filed with the head of Nizhny Novgorod law chamber for repeated violations of legal ethics by lawyer Petr Zaikin.
Moreover, the penal commission decided to submit the assigned materials to the republican Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for supervisory review in relation to Articles 144, 145 of the Russian Criminal Code. The court is asking the investigative body to determine whether Petr Zaikin’s words addressing Deputy Interior Minister for the Chechen Republic Apti Alaudinov and the head of the Chechen Presidential Administration Magomed Daudov amount to libel. In fact it means that the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic requests the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against Petr Zaikin.
«I think that the court did everything in its power so that the defense team could not properly exercise their rights and obligations, since it dismissed our motions, aimed at obtaining the evidence of the criminal case materials forging, the ones on which the prosecution was based upon, – lawyer Petr Zaikin comments on today’s appellate decision, – Now we are going to appeal in cassation with a High Panel of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic. As to two special court rulings, concerning myself, I regard this as an attempt of applying direct pressure, in order to make me work less actively or altogether exclude my further participation in this case».