Staunton, December 16 – The fraudulent nature of the prosecution’s case against seven leading Ingush activists is being highlighted in an unexpected way: the witnesses the prosecution has called to provide evidence against them have been making declarations that undercut the state’s case and provide support for the defendants.
Yesterday, the trial of the seven continued in Essentuki. Before lunch, the session was open but consisted only of the judges going through written materials, defense lawyers say. After lunch, the courtroom was cleared of everyone but the judges, the defendants, the lawyers and two witnesses (fortanga.org/2020/12/pokazaniya-svidetelej-po-ingushskomu-delu-razoshlis-s-dannymi-obvineniya/).
The lawyers said afterwards that the testimony of the two contradicted the government’s indictment and suggested that the authorities had falsified the record in order to bring charges. Because it was a closed session, the lawyers were prohibited from providing details; but they did say that the witnesses acknowledged they were friends with the defendants.
Moreover, the witnesses declared that they hadn’t been present at the March 2019 protest and that all they did not have any direct knowledge about the demonstration, dramatically reducing the evidentiary value of their remarks and raising questions about the way their earlier responses to investigators had been recorded given that the protocols suggested otherwise.
Today, the same two witnesses returned to the stand where they were questioned at length by the court, prosecutors, lawyers for the defense and the seven defendants themselves (fortanga.org/2020/12/zashhita-liderov-ingushskogo-protesta-vnov-ukazala-na-nesostoyatelnost-obvineniya/).
One of the attorneys commented after the session that the two witnesses “had not said anything specific about the seven leaders of the protest. One of them indicated that those who had been charged were orderly citizens whom he knew personally” and “the second reported that he had information only from the Internet” as neither he nor the other were present.
The next session of the court is scheduled for December 22.