First Part of Umar Israilov Murder Trial is Complete
The first part of Chechen refugee Umar Israilov’s murder trial in Vienna concluded on November 26, 2010.
Thirty-one witnesses and five expert witnesses were heard. Among the latter were Dick Marty, current rapporteur on Chechnya for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Lord Frank Judd, member of the UK House of Lords and former rapporteur on Chechnya as well as Dr. Aude Merlin, researcher on Chechnya from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). All three experts described the horrific situation in Chechnya and Russian puppet Ramzan Kadyrov’s installation of a network of people across Western Europe, who threaten Chechen opponents of Kadyrov and force them to return to Chechnya. Also, all three expert witnesses added their personal impressions from recent visits to Chechnya and described the enormous climate of fear and repression both inside and outside of Chechnya.
Umar Israilov’s father, who was detained, mistreated and tortured by Kadyrov to force the return of his son in 2005, was present during the entire trial. He is being closely protected by the Austrian police. He has filed his own applications to the European Court of Human Rights, both in regard to his own mistreatment by Kadyrov and one concerning his son. These cases are still pending. Just like other court applicants lodging complaints against Kadyrov and his security forces, he faces imminent threats from Kadyrov’s envoys across Europe.
The testimonies given before the three judges and twelve jury members included eye-witnesses accounts of the execution of Umar Israilov, which occurred around noon on an open street in Vienna. Other witnesses described the Chechen community in Austria. However, it was obvious that many witnesses were so frightened that their testimony was limited. The presence of Kadyrov’s envoys in the courtroom provided a clear illustration of the constant threat and intimidation Chechens face outside of their country by the regime.
The expert witnesses described the system of total impunity for Kadyrov’s security forces (Kadyrovites) in Chechnya. They further concluded that public statements by Kadyrov can be understood as direct orders to neutralize all opponents. As has already been seen in various other situations, such orders are executed by persons who are close to Kadyrov. These persons are then promoted by him personally after carrying out their crime. A witness stated that the alleged direct perpetrator of Umar Israilov’s murder, Lecha Bogatirov, returned to Chechnya and was promoted in the Kadyrovites.
The trial thus far has revealed threats posed by Kadyrov’s envoys against regime opponents living in various European countries. Statements and documentation exists concerning actions undertaken by Kadyrov’s network in France, Norway, Poland, Belgium and Austria. Connections were also made to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Belarus. Certain advisors working for Ramzan Kadyrov were repeatedly named in relation to incidents in various countries: for example Shaa Turlaev, and Magomed Daudov (also known as Lord). Those who return – or are abducted and forcibly returned – face torture and mistreatment in Russian occupied Chechnya’s detention facilities, which are under control of the pro-Russian regime. The Chechen based family members of those who refuse to return are threatened and even tortured, as in the case of Israilov. Several of those who refused to return and were not abducted have instead been assassinated. Alongside Austria, assassinations have been carried out in Dubai, Istanbul, Moscow and Azerbaijan.
The murder trial will resume on January 19, 24 and 25, 2011 with further witnesses. The Austrian Prosecutor and Court officially demanded that the Russian Federation cooperate by facilitating video conferences with principle suspect Lecha Bogatirov as well as Ramzan Kadyrov, Shaa Turlaev and Artur Kurmakaev, all currently present in Russian territory.
*Text was written by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco