06.10.2016 | Halya Coynash

Russia uses secret court to keep Mustafa Dzhemiliev’s son hostage for an extra 3 years


A Russian court has ordered that the son of veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev be kept under ‘administrative surveillance’ for three years after his scheduled release on Nov 25.  His lawyer believes that this is a ploy to keep Khaiser Dzhemiliev hostage still longer in Russian-occupied Crimea. It effectively increases the young man’s sentence,   with the decision being announced at a court hearing on Sept. 15, about which Khaiser’s lawyer Nikolai Polozov was not informed.  According to the ruling, Khaiser Dzhemiliev will be prohibited from leaving Crimea, under a night curfew and will not be allowed to visit any bars, cafes, etc., unless working there, nor will he be able to attend any mass events.

This is a grave restriction of his liberty, yet Polozov knew nothing about it until the end of the month when he arrived to present the application for the young man to be released on parole.  That application, like all others, was rejected.  The decision on administrative surveillance will presumably be appealed, but there are no grounds for expecting a positive outcome.

Khaiser has been illegally imprisoned in Russia for over a year, and is constantly placed in punishment cells for no reason.  While avoiding any obvious physical abuse of the young man,  they are clearly using any formal ‘infringement’  as a pretext to impose penalties.  According to his lawyer, since he was first taken illegally to a prison colony in Russia’s Astrakhan region, he has spent over 210 days in punishment cells.  Polozov assumes that the aim is to isolate him from other prisoners, with all of this primarily aimed at putting pressure on Mustafa Dzhemiliev. 

Polozov stresses that all material regarding treatment, etc. will be added to the application already with the European Court of Human Rights.

At least Russia has finally, after 2 years of trying to foist Russian citizenship on Khaiser Dzhemiliev, acknowledged that the young man is a Ukrainian national. Since he had made the formal statement which Russia demanded back in 2014, the pressure over this was especially cynical.  Russia also refused on at least one occasion to allow the Ukrainian consul to visit him in prison.

Khaiser Dzhemiliev officially rejected Russian citizenship in 2014 and any attempt to force this upon him is in grave breach of international law. 

In February this year the Memorial Human Rights Centre condemned Russia’s use of Mustafa Dzhemiliev’s son as a hostage and demanded that he be returned to Ukraine.  They said that even in the context of the violations of international law linked with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the fact that Khaiser Dzhemiliev was being held in a Russian prison was unprecedented.   There were absolutely no grounds for the Russian authorities to be involved in the case of a Ukrainian national convicted of committing a crime against another Ukrainian in Crimea in 2013.   

In May 2013 Khaiser Dzhemiliev shot and killed Fevzi Edemov who was working as a guard to the family.  All the evidence indicated that this was a tragic accident, and that the correct charge should be of manslaughter through careless use of firearms.

It was under Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency that attempts were first made to use the case against Khaiser to blackmail Mustafa Dzhemiliev by threatening to change the charge from manslaughter to murder.  These attempts were continued by Russia following its annexation of Crimea. 

In the meantime, the Ukrainian authorities passed the case to the Kyiv prosecutor on the basis of the Ukrainian Law on the Occupied Territory.  An application to reinstate the original manslaughter charges was allowed, and two Kyiv courts subsequently ruled that Khaiser should be released from custody. 

Since these rulings were ignored, Mustafa Dzhemiliev approached the European Court of Human Rights, which on July 10, 2014, ordered Khaiser Dzhemiliev’s release.  Instead of complying with the Court in Strasbourg, Russia moved the young Ukrainian to the Krasnodar region in Russia. It also tried to charge Khaiser with murder “out of hooligan motives”, as well as with stealing and keeping a weapon and ammunition. 

A Ukrainian court passed sentence in April 2015, with Khaiser’s extradition then immediately demanded, yet ignored, despite all legal requirements under joint agreements being fulfilled.

There was one cheering development in May 2015 when a Russian jury rejected the charges of murder which Russian investigators had insisted on bringing.  The jury found Khaiser Dzhemiliev guilty of manslaughter through carelessness and of illegal possession of a weapon, as had the Ukrainian court.  It considered that he was worthy of leniency over the charge of possessing a firearm.

The prosecutor ignored this and demanded a five-year sentence which the court obligingly provided.  The Supreme Court, however, reduced this to 3.5 years. 

Khaiser Dzhemliev is no criminal.  In Ukraine he would have been freed by now on parole.  He is imprisoned in Russia illegally, and Russia is using all means, however illegitimate, to continue holding him hostage because of his father.  

Last page of the ruling (Polozov notes that the judge was in such a hurry to issue the ruling, that a mistake slipped through - it is Crimea he is to be restricted to, not Astrakhan)
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