Staunton, February 16 – The repeated failure of witnesses brought forward by the prosecution in the Ingush Seven case to support the state’s accusations against them is creating “the illusion” among some of their defenders in court and in Ingush society that there may be a positive outcome, Akhmed Buzurtanov says.
But any chance that the court will return anything but a guilty verdict against the seven is almost equal to zero; and what is going on appears to be an effort by the authorities to keep the trial from restarting the Ingush protest movement, the Portal Six commentator suggests (6portal.ru/posts/обвинение-свидетельствует-за-обвиня/#more-1338).
That tactic may work as long as the trial is going on, but it will collapse once the trial ends with guilty verdicts. Indeed, the authorities may have drawn that conclusion and decided to drag out the proceedings, as defense lawyers allege, to forestall a new wave of demonstrations (fortanga.org/2021/02/zashhita-zayavila-o-zatyagivanii-proczessa-nad-liderami-ingushskogo-protesta/).
That guilty verdicts are the norm was highlighted again today when an Essentuki judge imposed 3.5 years in prison camps on Magomed Khamkhoyev for his role in the March 2019 protests. He was accused of attacking siloviki, a far less serious charge than the forming of an extremist organization, the charge the Ingush Seven face (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/359858/).
Like his counterparts in that trial, however, Khamkhoyev maintains his innocence of the charges and used his last speech in court to restate his position (fortanga.org/2021/02/magomed-hamhoev-v-poslednem-slove-otverg-vse-obvineniya/).
At some point, the trial of the Ingush Seven will conclude, almost certainly in the same way Khamkoyev’s has, with continued insistence of innocence on the part of the defendants and the imposition of draconian punishments in no way justified by the situation. But when that happens, Ingush will go into the streets.
More than that, because Memorial and other human rights organizations have already declared the Seven prisoners of conscience, protests about their treatment will spread far beyond the borders of Ingushetia and of the Russian Federation as a whole.
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