New Expert Witness Testimony in Vienna

On November 25th, the Vienna State Criminal Court continued to listen to expert witnesses in the Israilov murder trial.

Lord Frank Judd, a member of the British House of Lords and earlier, a rapporteur on Chechnya for the Council of Europe for many years, reported on the murder of Umar Israilov, based on his impressions from eleven visits to Russia and Chechnya, the latest in February 2010.

In his view, Chechnya contains a climate of impunity and fear. The puppet government, which was installed by the invader Russia, is not held accountable for its actions and the judiciary system lacks independence. The protection of witnesses is not assured. On the contrary, members of Kadyrov’s gang who are called “police,” are guaranteed impunity, with the result that they feel so safe from prosecution, they do not even cover their faces when perpetrating crimes. Instead of investigating allegations of torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, some of the alleged perpetrators, including some which were named in judgments by the European Court of Human Rights with regard to the human rights situation in Chechnya, were even subsequently promoted.

Lord Judd continued by stating that Kadyrov very explicitly promotes an atmosphere which is encouraging his followers to accomplish any of his wishes by all means. For instance, Kadyrov said on television that no one can escape his jurisdiction wherever they might go. Furthermore, he is cited as having said that he knows everything, that he hears everything and that he is looking for evil-doers everywhere.

Another expert witness who appeared on the same day of the trial, was Dr. Aude Merlin, a lecturer from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). She explained the background of the problematic situation in Chechnya. She sees Ramzan Kadyrov as a product of the “Chechenization” of the conflict, which developed in several steps. On one hand, Kadyrov follows the policies of Moscow to show that there is order and reconstruction in Chechnya. On the other hand, he pursues his own goals on political, economic and material power and autonomy, much more than his predecessors did. Kadyrov’s is so strong that it supersedes Russia’s influence. The concentration of power by Kadyrov has followed certain steps. He first recruited former independence supporters and rival groups, by threatening and torturing them. He did that before he integrated them into his own security forces, which grew bigger and bigger. According to Kadyrov, the return of refugees to Chechnya is important to demonstrate that there is a normalization in the country and also that there exists a common people without dissidents. As a consequence, Kadyrov seeks to eliminate all opponents. He publically refers to all of his critics as bandits, terrorists and criminals.

Lastly, a Chechen witness, who arrived in Austria in 2010, confirmed that the alleged direct perpetrator of the murder of Umar Israilov, who was able to flee to Chechnya before an arrest warrant could be issued in January 2009, has been promoted to district police commander.

*Text was written by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco

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