Only 9% of Chechnya militant cases reach courts

Only 9 percent of criminal cases against members of militant bands in Chechnya ever reach courts, Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, the Russian President's human rights envoy to the Chechen Republic, told a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

He said there were more than 300 criminal cases against militants pending in the republic at the moment, but only a fraction of these stood a chance to make it to courts.

Criminal cases against federal troops are generally investigated in a more thorough way, the envoy pointed out. 30 percent of them actually come up. At the moment, about 150 such cases are under investigation. Sultygov said 176 criminal investigations were launched against federal servicemen last year and 53 men were eventually convicted of various offenses.

Sultygov linked the low detection rate for crimes committed by guerrillas to local residents' reluctance to appear in courts. "Everyone among us knows everything about everyone else, but people have to be assured of their own safety. Only then will they be able to testify," he noted.

Sultygov went on to say he would report to the President on observance of human rights and civil liberties in Chechnya soon. "Namely, next week my report on human rights in the Chechen Republic will be completely ready, it's a substantial enough document, taking up all of 400 pages with concrete figures," he said.

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