Martin Kochesoko’s lawyer: There are contradictions in witness testimonies

24 October 2020
Martin Kochesoko against the background of the poster of the Khabze movement. Photo via Novaya Gazeta.

Martin Kochesoko’s lawyer claims that there are inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses in her client’s case. Kochesoko is an activist from the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Kochesoko’s hearing took place on 21 October in a regular session of the Urvansky District Court in Kabardino-Balkaria. Kochesoko, a Circassian activist and the leader of Circassian group Khabze, is accused of drug possession.

Kochesoko was arrested in Kabardino-Balkaria in June 2019. Police said a bag of drugs was found in his car. The day after his arrest, a search was carried out in the Khabze office and documents and computer equipment were seized.

The activist's lawyer, Lyudmila Kochesokova, told OC Media that one of the two witnesses was an employee of the Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) of Kabardino-Balkaria’s Ministry of Internal Affairs who participated in the operation to detain Kochesoko. He was questioned alongside a second witness at the court session on Wednesday.

[Read more details of the Kochesoko case on OC Media: Circassian activist Martin Kochesoko charged again]

According to Kochesokova, the SOBR officer told the court that ‘an expert took the package out of Kochesoko's pocket’, while during the preliminary investigation, this witness said that Kochesoko ‘himself took a bag of marijuana out of his pants pocket’.

She said that the SOBR officer could not answer many of the questions asked of him, since, according to him, ‘he no longer remembers the details of the detention’. Kochesokova said that, according to the witness, he was not directly involved in the detention of Kochesoko.

Lyudmila Kochesokova told OC Media that the second witness repeated testimony he had given during the preliminary investigation.

Nevertheless, according to her, the defence doubts the independence of the second witness, as they have information that both he and the first witness are ‘regular witnesses’ of the security forces.

According to Kochesokova, at the next meeting, scheduled for 6 November, the court plans to continue questioning more witnesses.

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