Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for May 3rd, 2010

Armenian Police In Rare Apology Over Torture

Posted by Info on 03/05/2010

In an unprecedented public apology, the head of Armenia’s police service has admitted misleading the nation about the recent death of a young man in police custody. Alik Sargsian on April 30 said he was “deceived” by his subordinates into thinking that Vahan Khalafian was not ill-treated at a police station in Charentsavan, in central Armenia.

“I am going to punish all of my employees who gave me incorrect information and thereby put me in an awkward situation.”

His statement came one day after Ashot Harutiunian, a senior police officer in Charentsavan, was formally charged with torturing Khalafian to extract a confession about a theft committed in the town. The 24-year-old died in police custody, with his relatives insisting that he was tortured to death.

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) said the charge is based on testimony given by other local police officers.

“I am not going to defend anyone and all the guilty [people] will be punished,” said Sargsian. “I never encouraged beatings. There are more proper ways of doing the job.” “Let those people whom I misinformed with my statements forgive me,” he added. “As for those who deceived me, they will be punished with all the strictness of the law. I am not going to forgive anyone.”

Sargsian, however, stuck to police claims that Khalafian grabbed a knife from a police officer’s drawer and stabbed himself to death after the interrogation.

Artur Sakunts, a human rights campaigner: “How could a tortured and beaten young man quickly find a knife in a room totally unfamiliar to him? How did he know where it was kept? Or did they put the knife on a table and tell him to kill himself?… So I believe what happened was murder.

While welcoming the police apology, Sakunts said Sargsian should have gone further and stepped down.“A mere apology can not change the situation.”

Posted in Armenia | Leave a Comment »

Violence Never Far Away In Chechnya Or President Orders Killings

Posted by Info on 03/05/2010

There is a disturbing pattern in the deaths and disappearances of more than a dozen critics and political rivals of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Khavazhi Yusupov’s account emerged in a film of his confession to the police, during which he sensationally claimed that President Ramzan Kadyrov had personally ordered him to carry out the assassination.
The target was Isa Yamadayev, whose family is at war with the president. He also claimed that the 33-year-old Chechen leader had boasted of ordering the murders of Yamadayev’s two elder brothers, who have been shot in separate contract killings since the feud began three years ago.

He explains that Turlayev took him to see the president last July. Kadyrov said to me. ‘You’ll have to kill Isa Yamadayev.’ I said I couldn’t. ’If you don’t,’ Kadyrov told me, ‘we’ll bring your entire family here right now, including all the women and children, and we’ll kill them in front of you and then kill you.’ I had no choice but to agree…

Yusupov admitted everything in his potentially explosive interrogation. Allegations that Kadyrov has had opponents tortured and killed have circulated for years — claims he vehemently denies. But this is the first time anyone has claimed he was hired by the president to commit murder.
Yusupov’s confession has created a quandary for the Russian authorities. Kadyrov is backed by Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister. The trial is being held behind closed doors.

Last week Austria’s counterterrorism department announced the result of a year-long investigation into the murder in Vienna of Umar Israilov, an exiled Chechen whistleblower, who had accused the president of numerous crimes.
Austrian investigators have established that the man suspected of killing Israilov, who was gunned down in broad daylight, phoned Turlayev shortly afterwards.

A copy of Turlayev’s passport and an electronic airline ticket he had used to travel to Austria were found in the getaway car. Police suspect Israilov’s killers had planned to abduct him but shot him when he fled.
“These claims are utter rubbish,” said Turlayev. “I was in Austria but only to help convince former rebels to come back. A lot of Chechens there have my number. So what?”

In a statement, the Chechen president’s office also denied Yusupov’s allegations and any involvement in the attempt on Yamadayev’s life. “Even if a cow goes missing somewhere, it’s now fashionable to accuse Kadyrov.”

Posted in Russia | Leave a Comment »