Qatar trial: what will the prosecutor demand?

A Doha court will examine the case of two Russians, who were charged with taking part in the assassination of former Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, June 8.

Such information was confirmed by Ilya Levitov, spokesman for the Yegorov, Puginsky, Afanasyev & Partners law office, which represents the defendants' interests in court. The prosecution will state its case during the session, Levitov added.

Talking to RIA Novosti over the phone some time ago, a source inside Russia's Qatar embassy noted that it might take an entire day to read out all charges; this includes a mandatory afternoon-prayer interval being stipulated by all Qatar Shariah courts. After that, the court will possibly announce a date for passing its verdict.

At the same time, Ilya Levitov offered some rather cautious comments on this deadline. We don't know whether this will happen, or not, he said.

It's still unclear whether Russian consul Maximov will be questioned as a witness; this is unlikely to happen, a law-office spokesman noted.

Previously, the defense requested that the court question Maxim Maximov, who serves as Russian consul in Doha.

The Russian consul visited the two Russian citizens in prison June 4, handing over small parcels. According to the Russian diplomat, their health and morale are normal; both men didn't make any complaints whatsoever. The Russian consul meets the defendants not more than once a week.

A Doha court started examining the case of both Russian citizens April 11; the defense stated its positions May 25. All court sessions, except the first one, are taking place behind closed doors.

The lawyers of both Russian citizens demanded that the court clear their clients on every count, explaining their position by the fact that the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations had been violated. The lawyers claim that Qatar authorities had no right to arrest Russian citizens on the territory of the Russian diplomatic villa, and that all evidence had been confiscated in violation of the law. They also mentioned the violation of the New York anti-torture convention, demanding that the court exclude all testimonies, which had been obtained under torture.

The court received official notes of the Russian Foreign Ministry pointing to the violation of the New York and Vienna conventions, as well as to the violation of Russian citizens' rights to meet their lawyers on a regular basis (by Qatar authorities). Such notes also mention an unlawful ban, which prevents a Russian interpreter from attending such meetings.

The defense demanded that the restitution principle be applied; this implies a remand; moreover, both Russian citizens must be handed over to the Russian Ambassador in Doha.

Qatar secret services arrested three Russian citizens, who were staying on business in Qatar, in the early hours of February 19. The three men were subsequently charged with complicity in the February 12 assassination of Yandarbiyev. The former president of the self-proclaimed Chechnya-Ichkeria republic had lived as a refugee in Doha for the last three years; Yandarbiyev was deprived of the right to engage in political activity.

One of the detained men, i.e. a first secretary of Russia's embassy in Qatar, was released because he had diplomatic immunity, returning home March 24.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that both Russian citizens are innocent, demanding their release and saying that they must return home immediately. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement, Russian citizens had every right to stay in Qatar; nor did they violate any local legislation, while fulfilling information-analytical assignments as regards the fight against international terrorism, the document reads in part.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team