Lawyer in Kabardino-Balkaria protests alleged double jeopardy terrorism charge

19 February 2020
Chegem district court. Official photo

The lawyer of Khasanbi Indreyev, a resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, published a petition claiming that recent charges against her client are a reprition of charges he has already served a sentence for.  

The petition, published on 11 February, was addressed to the Commissioner for Human Rights in Kabardino-Balkaria, as well as the Republic’s Human Rights Center and the Memorial human rights center.

Indreyev was charged on 13 November 2019 with ‘complicity with, or participation in, a terrorist organisation’. 

Inna Golitsyna, Indreyev’s lawyer and the petition’s author, writes that in August 2018, her client was sentenced by the Chegem district court to two years and three months in a penal colony for aiding and participating in an illegal armed group.

According to the Russian Criminal Code, complicity with illegal armed groups, as well as for direct participation in them, can result in a sentence ranging from 8-15 years in prison. Complicity with or participation in a terrorist organization can result in a sentence ranging from 10-20 years in prison and a fine of up to ₽500,000 ($ 8,000).

Fathers and sons 

Golitsyna further writes that in 2018, the 17-year-old Khasan Indreyev was convicted of having aided Alim Bitokov and Khizir Likhov, acquaintances of his father, who were hiding in the Indreyev’s house in Nartan.

Likhov and Bitokov were both allegedly members of armed groups — at the time of the Indryev’s initial sentence, the authorities did not specify which groups these were. 

Golitsyna writes that Indreyev was fulfilling the wishes of his father when he ‘provided Bitokov and Likhov with food’.

In August 2016, both Bitokov and Likhov were killed by Russian security forces.

According to Golitsyna, after serving his sentence Indreyev tried to adapt to a peaceful and lawful life when the new criminal case was brought against him.

The reason for this, she wrote, is that new facts were established by the investigation that identified Khizir Likhov as a ‘member of the structural unit of the illegal terrorist organization Islamic State’ instead of simply a member of an ‘illegal armed group’.

Golitsyna told OC Media that in 2016 Indreyev did not understand the difference between them ‘the structural unit of the international terrorist organization Islamic State’ and ‘an illegal armed group’.  

Nor, she said, does he currently understand why the same actions committed by him, for which he has already served time, can now be qualified as different crimes for which he has to serve new prison time, especially after this several year gap of freedom.

‘And this is despite the fact that the investigation had information about Indreyev’s actions in 2016 from the very beginning’, she said.

Golitsyna also said that Indreyev’s father, having learned that his son gave a detailed testimony to investigators has estranged himself from the family, that Indreyev’s mother is currently ill with late-stage cancer. 

Taking all this into consideration, Golitsyna considers the criminal prosecution of her client unacceptable.

‘The investigation is nearing completion and will be brought to court very soon. Khasanbi Indreyev himself has been under house arrest for already several months’, Golitsyna told OC Media.

Double Jeopardy

Mustafa Taukenov, managing director of the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Kabardino-Balkaria, told OC Media that Russian law prohibits the Commissioner for Human Rights in a subject of Russia (in this case, the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria) from interfering in a criminal investigation.

‘I myself am a lawyer [and] I know that in criminal law there are moments that allow you to convict a citizen twice for the same act. However, I have not yet had time to get acquainted with the Khasanbi Indreyev’s case specifically’, he said.

Taukenov believes that in order to resolve this problem as soon as possible, Indreyev needs to submit a personal application to the Commission for the Adaptation of Militants to Peaceful Life, operating under the Head of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Valery Khatazhukov, head of the Kabardino-Balkaria’s Human Rights Center, believes that the new criminal case is completely based on the materials from the previous criminal case.

‘Indreyev served more than two years for participating in an illegal armed formation and aiding [it]. Now, in the same case, they opened a criminal case against him for aiding and participating in a terrorist organization’, Khatazhukov told OC Media.

‘We are not talking, in the legal language, about some kind of “newly discovered circumstances”’, he said. ‘All this information is available in the court materials and is reflected in the verdict.’

‘If there were any inconsistencies and mistakes, these are problems of the court and the investigation’, he added. ‘Why should Indreyev, who has already served his term, be responsible for the incompetence of investigators?’

Galina Tarasova, a lawyer at the Memorial Human Rights Center, told OC Media that it follows from the appeal of Indreyev’s lawyer that the investigation is trying to charge Indreyev twice for the same acts, a clear case of double jeopardy.  

‘If this is so, then the actions of the investigators are against the law. We sent letters to the prosecutor's office and the highest investigative body of Kabardino-Balkaria with a request to understand the situation and prevent the illegal, criminal prosecution of Khasanbi Indreyev’, Tarasova told OC Media.

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