Staunton, February 10 – At this week’s sessions of the trial of the Ingush Seven, the leaders of the March 2019 protest accused of attacking officials and forming an extremist organization, prosecution witnesses either failed to show up or, when some did, denied what prosecutors had claimed and offered evidence for the defense, according to defense lawyers.
Most of the prosecution witnesses the government said would testify this week simply did not appear, attorney Aralbek Dumanishev says. This is not the first time that has happened, and prosecutors insist that they will come eventually (fortanga.org/2021/02/ne-menee-15-svidetelej-po-mitingovomu-delu-otkazalis-vystupat-so-storony-obvineniya/).
But when prosecution witnesses do show up, he and other defense lawyers say, in “no fewer than 15” cases, they deny what prosecutors said they had said in pre-trial interrogations and testify on behalf of the defendants. That may be why the authorities are drawing out the case which seems to be collapsing around them (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/359663/).
The defense lawyers point out that it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that their witnesses actually appear; but up to now, prosecutors either have been unwilling or unable to do so, an indication that many of those on the list are rethinking taking a position at odds not only with the Ingush people but with the truth.
(It is noteworthy that a similar problem is affecting other trials of Ingush opposition figures. Promised prosecution witnesses aren’t delivering, and the courts are simply extending the court hearings until they will or until they can find some basis for returning the expected guilty verdicts (fortanga.org/2021/02/svideteli-oprovergli-obvineniya-v-adres-magomeda-hamhoeva/).
Another defense attorney in the Ingush Seven trial, Fatima Urusova, says that the court has not yet been presented with any evidence, let alone definitive and uncontested kinds, that show any of those now charged are guilty of the crimes prosecutors say they committed (fortanga.org/2021/02/dovody-obvineniya-ne-dokazali-vinu-liderov-ingushskogo-protesta/).
Urosova notes that the trial as a result of its length and by the close quarters in which it is being held and the way in which the defendants are being treated is rapidly becoming a kind of punishment in and of itself. She has called for it to be held in a larger and more comfortable room, so far without success.
Meanwhile, the Union of Repressed Peoples of Russia has called on Vladimir Putin to intervene and order the release of the Ingush Seven. The organization says that any failure to do so risks triggering more anger and instability in Ingushetia and the North Caucasus more generally (instagram.com/p/CLFJbFdgAHm/?igshid=7qee5i0g6yq9 and fortanga.org/2021/02/soyuz-repressirovannyh-narodov-rossii-prizval-putina-osvobodit-liderov-ingushskogo-protesta/).