Yesterday the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation started examination of the appellate complaint against the court decision in the case of Suleiman Edigov, convicted to 14.5 years of prison term. The human rights defenders are convinced that the defendant was forced to incriminate himself under torture. However, the Supreme Court of Russia so far dismisses all the motions of the defense team. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 November at 10.00.
As we have previously reported, on 23 May 2014 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic delivered its conviction in the case of 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 individuals by prior conspiracy) of Russian Criminal Code. Judge German Aleksandrov found the defendant guilty on all counts and sentenced the young man to fourteen and a half years to be served in a maximum security penal colony.
The case of Suleiman Edigov attracted public attention when, on 1 November 2013, judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic Vakhid Abubakarov disqualified himself from examining this very case. As explained 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.
(Photo: judge Vakhid Abubakarov,
Moreover, judge Abubakarov in his self-disqualification statement elaborated on the following: «In the course of the trial investigation the court was provided with the accumulation of the consistent evidence confirming the words of defendant S.S.Edigov, stating that police investigators who report to R.Sh.Alhanov illegally abducted him on August 3, 2012, imprisoned him until September 12, 2012, wrapping his fingers with aluminum wire, subjected him to electricity tortures, forcing him to confess, and caused him hard-to-heal putrid wounds of the 4th and the 5th fingers of both hands circumferentially».
(Photo: Suleiman Edigov in pre-trial detention facility of Grozny, Traces of electricity torture on Edigov’s hands, source: Novaya Gazeta)
«After the involvement of the executive of such high rank in my examination of the criminal case against S.S.Edigov, any verdict that I can possibly announce, even in my own consciousness, beyond my will, would look like a yielding to a warning in case of guilty verdict or a demonstration of courage in case of a not-guilty verdict, i.e. it would either be ordered or a protest one», – the judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic summed up his self-disqualification.
However, further on the new judge of the case German Aleksandrov dismissed a motion of the defendant for disqualification of all the judges of Chechnya due to pressure exerted on their colleague Vakhid Abubakarov based on the fact that «the reasons of his self-disqualification are not confirmed by factual circumstances». After that the judge delivered a guilty verdict in the case of Edigov.
Meanwhile, neither evidence, collected in the course of trial investigation by judge Abubakarov, nor a significant public interest, applications filed with the General Prosecutor and the Chairman of the Investigative Committee, attention of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation could influence the situation.
«Alas, so far the Supreme Court of Russia has been deceiving good hopes and expectations. Firstly, the trial itself, scheduled for 5 November at 10 a.m. started with tremendous delay, at 18.30. As a result it was evident that after the whole working day the judges were finding it hard to concentrate on what was going on, – lawyer working with INGO «The Committee Against Torture» Anton Ryzhov, who was present at the trial, informs. – But the most depressing thing is, certainly, not that, but the mere essence of the court investigation. For example, in its very beginning one of Edigov’s lawyers Said-Akhmed Yusoupov filed a motion on conducting additional forensic medical examination in Rostov laboratory of medical and criminal identification. Questions that we offered for the expert examination: what is the cause of formation and age of Edigov hand injuries which were found on him, and is there any data indicating that Edigov received electrical injury? I’d like to note that experts in Russia already give answers to such questions and court decisions have been delivered based on the conclusions of the mentioned expert organization. The Supreme Court of Russia, however, dismissed this motion».
Meanwhile, one of Edigov’s lawyers, a member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, Yuriy Kostanov, supporting the motion of his colleague, pointed out the following circumstance. In the record of additional interrogation of the defendant dated March 13, 2013 Edigov indicated that he got cuts on his hands prior to his detention – allegedly, in July 2012 he replaced the electric bulb at his rented apartment in Sweden and this bulb exploded in Suleiman’s hands. Kostanov reasonably emphasized that, according to the expert examination, the scars on Edigov’s hands are ring-shaped, that is why he expressed doubts in relevance of receiving such injuries in the described circumstances: «Light bulbs do not explode in one’s hands injuring backs of hands and fingers. It is nonsense. I am afraid we are dealing with the process of judge Aleksandrov against Sir Isaac Newton».
The court dismissed another motion, either. Edigov’s lawyer asked judges to announce forty eight facts of evidence from the case materials, testifying, in the opinion of the lawyers, of tortures and insolent forging of evidence. The court considered such a motion ungrounded, declaring that if needs be they would always be able to study the case materials in the consultation room.
Then lawyer Yusoupov filed a motion for holding a wide range of facts of evidence in the case inadmissible, including due to the tortures which Suleiman was subjected to, and also due to pressure exerted on members of his family. Judges will deliver the decision on this motion on Friday when the appellate examination continues. The hearing starts at 10.00.
Anton Ryzhov: «And the last what needs to be mentioned – the position of the representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation Mr.Titov. It caused some bewilderment, to put it mildly. Routinely opposing the filed motions the prosecutor reduced the essence of the case to a simple situation – since Edigov confessed of committed crime during the pre-trial investigation and in the beginning of the trial, none of the contradictions and unidentified circumstances in the case can alter the essentials. That is why all motions should be dismissed. After the trial Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Milashina, who was present at the trial, could not contain her emotions and posed a legitimate question to the General Prosecutor: «And what crimes would you confess if your fingers were connected to electric current»? The General Prosecutor did not reply to this question».