Lithuanian Court Authorizes Search of Gataev Couple
Lithuanian media outlets reported that a district court in Klaipėda satisfied a request by the regional prosecutor Alicija Petkevičiūtė to launch a search for Chechen human rights activist Khadizhat Gataeva (nicknamed the “Angel of Grozny”) and her husband Malik Gataev, who were convicted of self-willed conduct, and also sanctioned their arrest in absentia.
The court said on Friday March 30th, the decision followed unsuccessful attempts to locate the Gataevs. The Klaipėda district court said it had asked the Finnish Ministry of Justice for legal assistance in informing the Gataevs about the date and location of the appeal case hearing but a reply stated that the couple could not be found in Finland. The Lithuanian court also asked them to inform the couple about their asylum acceptance but Finnish officials have not responded to this request for unknown reasons. This motivation to harass and threaten the Gataevs, likely with new detention, comes at the demand of Lithuania.
The Gatayev case went to the Klaipėda district court after it was forwarded from the Lithuanian Court of Appeals in May 2010. The case cannot be opened, as the suspects left Lithuania in 2009. It is known that the couple went to Finland and applied for political asylum there. In early 2009, a Kaunas court found the couple guilty of violent treatment of their foster children, murder threats and self-willed conduct. They were each sentenced to 10 months in prison. Another Kaunas court in September of 2009 extended the punishments to 18 months and the Gatayevs disappeared after the verdict. European arrest warrants were then issued, however, recalled in March of 2010, as the Lithuanian Supreme Court decided to reopen the case.
Human rights defenders say there were possible violations in the case – the media reported interference of the State Security Department and possible involvement of Russia’s special services.
*Text was written by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco