Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ulman Case: Grozny Rally

A report I translated for the Prague Watchdog website earlier today:

Chechen activists rally in Grozny to seek retrial in Ulman case

By Ruslan Isayev

GROZNY, Chechnya - A rally took place in Grozny on Wednesday against the court decision of the jury which in May this year acquitted a group of Russian spetsnaz soldiers under the command of Eduard Ulman.

Chechen human rights activists and NGO representatives gathered on one of Grozny’s squares and demanded not only a retrial, but also the transfer of the court proceedings to Chechnya – the scene of the crime.

The protest action lasted almost all day. Anyone who wished to was able to sign on the spot the petition addressed to the Prosecutor General and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation demanding that the acquittal verdict be overturned.

The action’s organizer was the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship. The organization’s co-chairman Minkail Ezhiyev said that by their decision to acquit the killers of peaceful civilians who were not guilty of anything, the jurors had showed how remote they are from the problem of Chechnya, and that they apparently consider Chechens to be second-grade human beings.

“The purpose of our action is to draw the attention of public opinion and to bring about the overturning of this decision, a change in the composition of the jury, and the transfer of the trial to Chechnya,” Ezhiyev noted.

It will be recalled that a group of GRU spetsnaz soldiers under the command of Captain Eduard Ulman was charged with the murder of six residents of Chechnya in January 2002. At a retrial the North-Caucasus Military Court in Rostov-on-Don acquitted the accused men on the basis of a jury verdict which found that they had been following the orders of their superiors.

On June 2 2005 the relatives of the innocent civilians who died at the hands of the spetsnaz soldiers filed a writ of appeal against the acquittal.

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