war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian court reduces illegal sentence passed on Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev’s son

Halya Coynash
The sentence against Khaiser Dzhemiliev has been reduced from 5 to 3.5 years but the 33-year-old was taken to Russia illegally and should be handed over to Ukraine.

Russia’s Supreme Court has reduced the sentence against Khaiser Dzhemiliev from 5 to 3.5 years imprisonment.  The news was reported as a victory by his lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, who stressed, however, that Khaiser had been taken to Russia illegally and should be handed over to Ukraine.  

The sentence on June 2 from a court in Krasnodar was for an offence committed in Ukraine by a Ukrainian national who was taken to Russia against his will.  The extraordinary contempt for the law thus shown by Russia was only compounded by the fact that a Ukrainian court had already passed sentence. 

The prosecutor had demanded five and a half years imprisonment for the 33-year-old son of veteran Crimean Tatar leader and Ukrainian MP Mustafa Dzhemiliev, the Krasnodar Court provided five.  This was despite the unanimous verdict from a Russian jury a week earlier rejecting 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.

Another Russian court had, on May 27, 2015, refused to terminate the trial despite the verdict and sentence passed by a Ukrainian court and Ukraine’s formal request for his extradition.  On April 10 this year a Kyiv court had found Khaiser Dzhemiliev guilty of manslaughter; theft of a weapon and ammunition and illegal possession of both.  He was sentenced to 3 years and 8 months imprisonment, with this counted from May 27, 2013.  The sentence was not appealed and has now come into force.  

The jury’s verdict and Ukrainian court verdict and sentence were entirely in keeping with previous rulings from Ukrainian courts from early 2014 which reinstated the original charges of manslaughter and ordered Khaiser’s release from custody.  The order to release Khaiser was then reiterated by the European Court of Human Rights which on July 10, 2014 applied Rule 39, ordering that Dzhemiliev be freed. Despite the binding nature of all rulings and decisions from the Court in Strasbourg, Russia not only failed to comply, but also moved Khaiser from Simferopol in Crimea to Russia’s Krasnodar.  The prosecutor rejected the charges laid back at the time of the tragic shooting in May 2013 of manslaughter through carelessness and accused Khaiser of ‘murder out of hooligan motives”’.

Mustafa Dzhemiliev has repeatedly accused the Kremlin of open blackmail by holding his son in prison and making the charges against him more serious.  The aim is widely seen as being to put pressure on Mustafa Dzhemiliev to modify his unwavering opposition to Russian occupation of his homeland.

Russia’s Supreme Court has now made the sentence slightly shorter than that imposed by a Ukrainian court, however Khaiser remains in Russian imprisonment with his father unable to visit him.  Just over a month after illegally annexing Crimea Russia banned Mustafa Dzhemiliev from his homeland under Russian occupation (and from Russia).  It has since banned the Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, ‘deported’ a Ukrainian Crimean Tatar rights activist and is holding the Deputy Head of the Mejlis in detention.

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