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20.12.2018 | Halya Coynash

Russian prosecutor demands huge sentences “on fantasy charges” for 4 Crimean Tatars

Detention hearing From left Rustem Abseitov, Enver Mamutov, Remzi Memetov, Zevri Abiltarov
   

Russia’s second ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir trial’ of Crimean Tatars is drawing to an end with heavy sentences likely despite absurd charges and proof only that all four recognized political prisoners are devout Muslims. The prosecution’s case was so weak that they resorted to showing video footage from 2006, although this too demonstrated no more than that one of the men had disagreed with the Mufti of Crimea who now, 12 years later, is collaborating with the occupation regime.  

The four Crimean Tatars: Enver Mamutov; Rustem Abiltarov; Zevri Abseitov and Remzi Memetov have been in custody since 12 May 2018, first in Crimea, and now in Rostov on the Don where they are on ‘trial’ in the North Caucuses Military Court.  The four men are essentially accused solely of ‘involvement’ in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamist organization which is legal in Ukraine and most countries.  Russia’s ban on the organization and claim that it is ‘terrorist’ has never been backed by any evidence at all, and Hizb ut-Tahrir is not known to have committed any acts of terrorism anywhere in the world.  In its authoritative study Transnational Islam in Russia and Crimea , Chatham House describes Hizb ut-Tahrir as tending “to avoid violent means and instead may focus on social work, education and dialogue initiatives”. 

It is already nonsense to charge people with terrorism for alleged involvement in an organization that is not terrorist.  On top of this, however, is the fact that the prosecution has provided material of quite surreal irrelevance.  The charges are, according to one of the lawyers, “pure fantasy”, with no evidence provided that the men are members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. 

The defence has therefore demanded an acquittal for all four men whom the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre has declared political prisoners. 

The prosecution has, however, tried to claim that the men’s ‘guilt’ has been proven.  On 11 December the prosecutor demanded a 17-year sentence for Mamutov, whom Russia has designated the role of ‘organizer’; 12.5 years for Memetov; and 10 years each for Abiltarov and Abseitov

The prosecutor alleged that the defendants had “studied the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir together” and had known that Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned in Russia.

Russia is thus claiming that huge sentences are justified for studying the ideology of an organization that would like all Muslim countries to unite, but does not advocate violence. 

The prosecutor also claimed that the ‘expert assessments’ of illicit recordings proved their involvement. 

The recordings did nothing of the sort.  Mamutov’s lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov explains that on the illicitly-made tape from 13 January 2016, the men can be heard discussing fate and rules for living according to the laws of Islam, for example, how you can earn money and buy property according to these laws

“As a lawyer, I did not hear anything on that tape that would confirm the prosecution’s version and expose the planned crimes that the defendants are accused of”, Kurbedinov told Krym.Realii.  Memorial HRC has also stated that the men have been deprived of their liberty without any elements of a crime.

from left clockwise Enver Mamutov, Rustem Abiltarov, Remzi Memetov, Zevri Abseitov

Four hard-working Crimean Muslims, all with children, were seized after early morning armed searches which traumatized their children but uncovered nothing at all illegal.  Not one has ever been in trouble with the police, nor are any of them charged now with any actual behaviour that could constitute a crime in a law-based society. 

Russia, as an occupying state, is in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention in its application of Russian legislation against Crimeans.  The situation is especially outrageous here given that Hizb ut-Tahrir is not banned in Ukraine. 

The four Ukrainian Muslims are charged with either ‘organizing a terrorist group (under Article 205.5 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code) in Mamutov’s case, or of involvement in that group (under Article 205.5 § 2).  The grounds for these charges are solely that the Russian Supreme Court in 2003 declared Hizb ut-Tahrir to be ‘terrorist’ in a decision which was concealed from the organization and human rights groups until it was too late to challenge it.

Long after the men’s arrest, new charges were brought against them of having planned to violently seize power (Article 278).  As Memorial HRC points out, this new charge “is based solely on the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir strategy envisages in some undefined future “the replacement of non-Islamic governments by Islamic”. 

The searches of the men’s homes found no weapons or anything that could indicate plans for violence.

Although this charge has become usual in Hizb ut-Tahrir trials in occupied Crimea and Russia, it was not applied against three of 21 Muslims from Ufa who received horrific sentences in July this year.  The difference in their case was that they had agreed to ‘cooperate’ with the investigators, by not denying the charges.  This rather suggests that the charge is used to punish those who do not ‘cooperate’. Not one of the Ukrainian Muslims whom Russia has so far arrested on these fatally flawed and cynical charges has agreed to give false testimony against themselves or the other men.

See also: Fake ‘secret witnesses’ & bizarre ‘evidence’ in Russia’s trial of 4 Crimean Tatar political prisoners

Please write to Rustem Abiltarov; Zevri Abseitov; Enver Mamutov and Remzi Memetov

The letters tell them they are not forgotten, and show Moscow that the ‘trial’ now underway is being followed. 

Letters need to be in Russian, and on ‘safe’ subjects.  If that is a problem, use the crib letter below (copying it by hand, typed letters will also not pass the censor), perhaps adding a picture or photo. 

Example letter

Привет,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.

[Hi.  I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ] 

Addresses

Rustem Abiltarov

Russia, 344022  Rostov on the Don, Maxim Gorky St, 219, SIZO-1

Abiltarov, Rustem Seiranovich, b. 1979

Zevri Abseitov

Russia, 344022  Rostov on the Don, Maxim Gorky St, 219, SIZO-1

Abseitov, Zevri Serdarovich, b. 1975

Enver Mamutov

Russia, 344022  Rostov on the Don, Maxim Gorky St, 219, SIZO-1

Mamutov, Enver Shevketovich, b. 1975

Remzi Memetov

Russia, 344022  Rostov on the Don, Maxim Gorky St, 219, SIZO-1

Memetov, Remzi Shevkaevich, b. 1966

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