Gataevs Remain Detained in Finland
The Helsingin Sanomat reported that The Helsinki District Court decided on Friday that Khadizhat Gataeva and her husband Malik Gataev, known as benefactors of orphans of the war in Chechnya, are to remain apprehended until the court will decide whether or not to extradite the couple to Lithuania.
The case will be handled at the Helsinki District Court in two weeks at the earliest, estimates lawyer Tiina Haapa-aho, who assisted the couple in court.
Khadizhat Gataeva, also known as the ”Angel of Grozny”, and her spouse are seeking political asylum in Finland alleging persecution by the Lithuanian security officials. The two were apprehended on Wednesday in the Helsinki region on the basis of an European Arrest Warrant.
They had been sentenced by a Lithuanian court to prison terms of a year and a half for blackmailing young people under their care. More than seven months of their prison term are still outstanding.
The two have been officially staying in Finland since the beginning of October.
The Gataevs resisted the continuation of detention, particularly because of Khadizhat Gataeva’s unstable health. They would have been willing to accept a travel ban with an obligation to report to the police every day.
However, the prosecution suspected that they might be a flight risk, a view with which the court agreed.
One of their supporters, Anu Harju, was present in court on Friday. “They have no plans to take flight. Khadizhat Gataeva is in such a bad condition that she could not get away even if she wanted. I would have hoped that the court could have shown some humanity”, Harju notes.
The support group regards the treatment of the Gataevs in Lithuania as inhuman and the legal proceedings as unlawful. “It has been a real farce, except that there is no comedy in it”, says Iida Simes, a member of the support group.
The supporters are now collecting names for an online petition defending the couple. Among those who have already signed the petition are Finnish film directors Pirjo Honkasalo and Aki Kaurismäki.
In Finland the Gataevs are known primarily on the basis of an award-winning documentary film, The 3 Rooms of Melancholia, directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, which tells about an orphanage kept by the two in Chechnya.