Today penal division of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic has continued the examination of the appeal of Ruslan Kutaev’s lawyers against the court decision delivered on 7 July this year. In the course of today’s hearing judges Dmitry Gorbovtsov, Saydi Yangulbaev and Isa Batayev dismissed the motion on conducting the expert examination of the incident site visual inspection photograph, however satisfied the lawyers’ motion on questioning of investigator Magomed Tsoltsayev, which was filed the day before. The defense team thinks that he could be present during drawing up of the forged record on conducting the procedural action, which was dated with the previous day – 20 February, the same date, when according to Kutaev’s words he was abducted and beaten. Since Mr. Tsoltsayev failed to precisely recall the circumstances of the conducted procedural actions in the Kutaev’s case in February of this year, lawyers filed a motion with the court requesting his telephone calls details report (billing) for the period from 20 to 22 February 2014. The court will announce its decision tomorrow. The hearing starts at 14.00.
(Photo: Ilyas Timishev, Ruslan Kutaev, Petr Zaikin)
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.
The fifth day of the examination of the appeal against the court decision in the case of Ruslan Kutaev started rather routinely: the presiding judge Dmitry Gorbovtsov read out the appellate decision on the motion filed the previous day on conducting the expert examination of a incident site visual inspection photograph in order to establish the part of which vehicle brand is seen in bottom left corner of the photograph. The judges came to the conclusion that there was no need in conducting this expert examination since this vehicle could belong to anyone, not only to investigator Magomed Tsoltsauev, the latter possibility is not ruled out by Ruslan Kutaev and his defense team.
Due to yet another dismissal of a motion lawyer Ilyas Timishev filed another one – on conducting the testimonial questioning of the senior investigator of Department of Investigations of the Department of the Interior of Russia for Urus-Martan District Magomed Tsoltsayev. It was him who investigated the criminal case against Ruslan Kutaev and, according to the defendant, he also took part in incident site visual inspection on 21 February of this year, being present during drawing up of the forged incident site visual inspection report, dated by the previous day, 20 February.
To much surprise of the audience the motion was satisfied despite the objection of the prosecutor that this was «pointless».
While the court was waiting for the witness to arrive Petr Zaikin filed yet another motion for the court to request Mr. Tsoltsayev’s calls details record (billing) for the period from 20 to 22 February 2014. Ruslan Kutaev supported this motion, assuming: «It’s the word of Tsoltsayev against the words of Kutaev. Let the billing be the decisive argument». The presiding judge Dmitry Gorbovtsov still suggested the defense team to wait for the witness and hear his testimony, pointing out: «You are saying we won’t believe policemen, prosecutor’s office, but we will believe a telephone operator’s reference note?»
Lawyer Petr Zaikin answered to this that the technical data a priori cannot be biased: «Equipment unlike people is unbiased, cannot fear, cannot be based on falsely interpreted goals and objectives of the service». And requesting the billing, in the view of lawyers, can sort out the contradictions of different versions of both parties of the hearing, thus providing equal access to justice for each of them.
Investigator Tsoltsayev who arrived at the court within an hour, gave similar answers to each question of lawyers, stating that since it was a long time ago and he could not remember a thing, and all the circumstances of the procedural actions are reflected in the materials of the case. «It was just as it is written there» – Mr. Tsoltsayev stated, not wanting to put himself to bother of trying to remember. Judge Dmitry Gorbovtsov had even to repeat three times a specific question to the witness on whether he was present on 21 February in Gekhi village, and only for the third time the judge heard «No» for an answer.
In his turn, Ruslan Kutaev answered the question of lawyer Petr Zaikin, confirming his previous testimony stating that during the incident site visual inspection on 21 February of this year Magomed Tsoltsayev was among other policemen and attesting witnesses.
Since the witness did not remember well the circumstances of the conducted procedural actions concerning Ruslan Kutaev, the defense team logically filed a motion for the court to request the calls details record (billing) of investigator Tsoltsayev for the period from 20 to 22 February of this year.
The decision on this motion will be announced tomorrow at 2 p.m., when the court hearing on examination of the appeal against the court decision in the case of Ruslan Kutaev will be continued.