Der Standard: Bulgaria’s Delivery Plan
Der Standard, an Austrian national daily newspaper, has published an article about the situation of disabled Chechen refugee Akhmed Chataev who is facing extradition from Bulgaria to Russia.
According to the newspaper, Akhmed Chataev has been in Bulgarian custody since May 19; almost 2 months. The 31-year old Chechen man who was granted refugee status in 2003, was in Grozny in 2000 and was subjected to severe torture. His arm was amputated without anesthesia and electrodes were attached to it by the Russian secret service in Chechnya. In Vienna, Chataev was considered a confidant of Umar Israilov, who was shot down in January of 2009 on a street in Vienna. Now Chataev has been told to go back to Russia. Last Friday, a court in the Bulgarian town of Haskovo approved his extradition. The court stated that they have to obey the European Arrest Warrant against Chataev who is a suspected “terrorist” by the Criminal Division. The court alleged that the claim which says that Akhmed Chataev may face torture in Russia “is not justified and has not been proven”!
“We are very afraid for Akhmed. He has four small children, and his wife is at the end”, said Ines Scholz who know Chatev from Vienna. For days, she has been in contact with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, as well as the Austrian Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry in order to prevent the extradition of the Chechen opponent. She knows that Chataev’s political asylum in Austria does not help at all. The international protection applies only to the state which has granted asylum, even within the EU.
A spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vienna said that “complementary information” had been transferred to the Bulgarian court of appeals in Plovdiv on Friday. Chataev’s case will be examined on Thursday in Plovdiv. After that, another appeal is possible in Sofia.
Chataev’s lawyer Vesko Georgiev has criticized the Bulgarian justice in an interview. “There was no right to arrest him here. If Austria recognizes him as a refugee, we should do the same. After all, we belong to the EU,” said Georgiev. The lawyer has already filed a petition to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg which asks to suspend the extradition of Chataev. The real mistake was committed by Austrian authorities who did not cancel the Russian arrest warrant for Chataev after he received asylum in Austria, said Georgiev.
On the other hand, a press-conference and protest was held in Vienna on July 6. The press-conference was organized by Vakha Banzhaev, chairman of the Organization of Former Prisoners of Russian Filtration Camps from the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (OUFKL-ChRI) and Michael Genner, chairman of the “Asyl in Not” organization. During the conference Akhmed Chataev’s situation was explained and a letter from his lawyer was read. The lawyer thanked the Austrian government which indicated that the arrest of Akhmed Chatev is a violation of international agreements as well as the Dublin-II regulation. The lawyer expressed his surprise at the decision of Austrian leadership, but he still thanked the Austrian government. After the press-conference, a protest was held in front of the Bulgarian Embassy. The protesters demanded the immediate release of Akhmed Chataev.
*Text was translated by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco