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Court releases policeman who fatally shot detained Ingushetia website publisher

The Ingush supreme court has ordered the release of the policeman who fatally shot Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of the news website, on August 31, 2008, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

By reducing the gravity of the charge on which Ibragim Yevloyev (no relation) was convicted, the court was able to commute his two-year jail sentence to two years of “supervised residence,” which means he will be able to resume working as policeman.

“The two-year jail sentence on a ‘negligent homicide’ charge was already deeply unsatisfactory but this change in the charge minimises the responsibility of Ibragim Yevloyev and the rest of the police in Magomed Yevloyev’s death even more,” Paris-based RSF rwacted. “His release is a total provocation and shows the Ingush judicial system’s complete lack of independence.”

It said, “Coinciding with a state visit to France by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, the Ingush supreme court ruling has highlighted the fragility of Russia’s progress in human rights. Nicolas Sarkozy praised Medvedev’s ‘commitment to the rule of law, respect for the law, judicial security and defence of human rights,’ but if Medvedev wants to show he deserves this praise, he must put an end to impunity for those who murder journalists and human rights activists in the Caucasus.”

“It is outrageous that the killer of Magomed Yevloyev has been freed from jail,” Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Europe and Central Asia Programme Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “With this s ruling, the Supreme Court of Ingushetia is fueling impunity for those who kill journalists—an endemic problem for Russia. We call on Russia’s Supreme Court to reverse this dangerous decision.”

The “restriction of freedom” provision is a relatively new penalty in the Russian criminal code; Article 53 of the penalties was amended on December 27, 2009, and came into force on January 10. According to the provision, the convicted are given a curfew after which they must not leave their home; are forbidden to leave town; are banned from attending mass gatherings; and are not allowed to change their address and work place without permission from the penitentiary service in their place of residence.

Magomed Yevloyev’s father, Yakhya Yevloyev, has said he will appeal against the Ingush supreme court’s decision all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. “For the time being, I am in a state of shock,” he said. “I have never seen such a denial of justice as this. I think we are going to appeal to the Russian federal supreme court even if we do not expect a fair decision.”

An opponent of the Ingush government as well publisher of the news website (now, Magomed Yevloyev was shot in the temple in an interior ministry vehicle shortly after being illegally detained on his arrival at Magas airport on August 31, 2008. He was left unconscious a few hours later at the entrance to a hospital, where he died soon afterwards. The police said he was shot accidentally as he tried to grab an officer’s firearm.

The victim’s colleagues and family had petitioned the courts for his death to be investigated as “murder with premeditation” under article 105 of the Russian criminal code. The petition was rejected by the supreme court, which ruled that investigators should continue to treat the case under article 109 § 2 as “homicide through negligence, as a result of inappropriate professional behaviour.”

This was the charge on which Ibragim Yevloyev, the Ingush interior minister’s former chief bodyguard, was eventually convicted.

But in its ruling on March 2, the supreme court went one step further by reducing the charge to just “homicide through negligence” under article 109 § 1 of the criminal code. Judge Tagir Azdoyev ruled that Ibragim Yevloyev had been right to take his firearm’s safety off just before the “accident” because the police had been warned that Magomed Yevloyev’s supporters might try to free him.

The sentence of “supervised residence” has only just been introduced into the Russian criminal code and it is not yet known how the Ingush authorities will implement it.
At the time of his death, Magomed Yevloyev was regarded as one of the leading opponents of then Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov (who was replaced two months later by Yunus-bek Yevkurov). Chechnya’s neighbour in the North Caucasus, Ingushetia has for the past 10 years been in the grip of a low-intensity civil war marked by killings, abductions and other forms of violence.

Magomed Yevloyev’s successor as’s publisher, Maksharip Aushev, was himself shot dead by police at checkpoint in Nazran on October 25, 2009.

Date posted: March 4, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 167